Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cyclists should be proactive about safety

From the Chronicle (Savannah College of Art and Design, GA) 01.25.08:

News of a cyclist seriously injured Jan. 10 by a hit-and-run driver at the corner of Lincoln and Wayne streets in Savannah has SCAD community members who commute to work and class on bicycles talking about how to stay safe.

While helmet use has been at the center of bicycle safety campaigns in the United States for decades, as passive safety devices helmets should be just one component of a cyclist's comprehensive injury-prevention strategy. After all, it would be foolish to suggest that it is OK for motorists to drive on the wrong side of the road, drive at night without turning on their lights, or weave in and out of traffic--as long as they are wearing seatbelts.

The same holds true for cyclists. (Read more.)
This article features comments from David Crites, executive director of Georgia Bikes!, and offers a good overview of how to ride more safely: stay off sidewalks, ride with traffic, keep bike maintained, communicate with motorists with eye contact and hand signals, don't drink and bike. The article also offers a link to the comprehensive Georgia Bicycle Law Enforcement Pocket Guide.

I appreciate the article's contextualization of helmets--they're only really effective if the cyclist practices safe cycling. For one thing, they don't prevent collisions. Among the injury prevention tactics I deploy, a helmet is about 20th on the list. I fully support any cyclist's decision to wear or not wear a helmet; and I object to any assumption that my lack of a helmet indicates recklessness.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Kahn: Make city friendlier to bicycles, Savannah Morning News
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


Anonymous said...

I agree with your statements concerning helmets. I always wear one when I'm on the mountain bike. I expect to hit terra firma at least a few times. However, when I'm commuting, I'm in a different mode. I've been riding for 40 years and have been hit only once. It was my own fault and it happened about 30 years ago.

I think all of the super charged "encouragement" to wear a helmet has actually hurt cycling's ability to go mainstream. It makes it look dangerous to non cyclists and it just down right unpleasant to have idiots continuously harp on you when they see you enjoying a bike without a helmet.

Fritz said...

Right on on helmets, Paul. I usually wear a helmet and acknowledge that sport cycling (because of speed) and mountain biking (because of terrain) carries more risks than utility cycling, but I've done my commute plenty of times sans helmet.

One of the comments popping up now for bike sharing proposals is the complete lack of helmets. I've also heard people complain about all the Googlers who bike helmet-less in Mountain View on company provided bikes.

SiouxGeonz said...

Interesting that the comments about the article are all about ... Helmets :)
I do so appreciate the press saying "no, cyclists aren't supposed to get out of the way - be visible, in your lane." I *know* this is genuine, newsworthy NEWS to lots of folks.

Richard Layman said...

I used to not wear a helmet but after getting in a car accident and having my bike totalled, but with little damage shockingly to me, I wear a helmet now pretty religiously. It's not a matter of the bicyclist, it's a matter of the 1.5 ton cars and what they do.