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You can count on us! Victoria Bach 1 year ago. Other people accuse that as the Milwaukee Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, it is my responsibility to set the safest example for others to follow. Yet I actually made a conscious choice to stop wearing a helmet for most of my riding precisely because I am the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator.
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It was not out of laziness. It was not out of vanity. Who can most people not most cyclists relate to: This guy? Before I go any further, let me say that I do NOT advise that other people should ride without a helmet. I still wear a helmet in many instances. Then consider that not only is riding a bicycle more than times safer than driving a car, it can also reduce your risk of dying from the number one cause of death, heart disease.
It seems pretty clear that if people made transportation choices based on concerns for personal safety and health they should ride bikes and stay out or cars. Buy this car and you will be just like this super models preening in these leather seats. Drive our car and you will become a care-free hipster cranking tunes with their friends. Those are the messages people are inundated with. Bicycling has been sold in the US as something you need to change clothes to do and that is not convenient.
I doubt that ad campaign would sell a single Camery. But that is how bicycling has been sold, even during bike to work week campaigns: Bike to Work, but wear a helmet and a safety vest because it is dangerous. Or this guy? I think most people see this and think "That's cool for you, but I don't wanna be in that club.
Furthermore, in the places where mandatory helmet laws are passed, bicycle use generally goes down. So if I want to get more people riding bikes, I need to work to make it more convenient. One way to do this is to add more bicycle facilities like bike lanes, trails, parking racks, bicycle boulevards etc. So my New Years resolution was to do more to set an example of how anyone can ride a bike almost anywhere, no matter what they are wearing.
But I can at least set an example that most people can relate to. Great write-up Dave. There was a story done a few years back that talked about how cars actually give non-helmet wearers more room when passing than those wearing helmets. I agree. Like I said, I usually suggest people wear helmets if they ask. I am not doing so for the very specific reasons I wrote about here. I do wear one when riding in suburban or rural areas as those roads have a much higher fatal crash rate than Milwaukee streets.
I always wear a helmet on training rides and mtb rides. My helmetless thing is about encouraging transportation trips by bike. So I think we agree comletely. Great post! I love what you have to say in this piece. I sold my car this year and resolved to ride just about every day.
I am almost fifty and somewhat of a putz. So I crash from time to time.
This has taught me both to be cautious and to wear a helmet and gloves regardless of the toll on my hair. I am thinking about adding elbow pads as well!! Mostly I love that bike riding has brought me back to life — I feel as if I have reconnected with the world, the sun, wind rain and the entire universe. I feel really alive again. That is awesome that you sold your car and feel reconnected with the world. I used to ride by this old guy at a bus stop on my way to work and every morning he would lean out and sing opera to me. I love those connections. I get your point, Dave.
It would be unfortunate, tho, if bicycle commuting became the recommended helmet-free experience. Maybe some routes, like that gorgeous ride along the lake front on former rail tracks — I use that or the marsupial whenever I go north. But for commuting I wear a helmet because my route is S.
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We hope to have it done next year. And, in fact, the Netherlands has the best traffic safety record in the world for all road users. There simply is no reason to wear a helmet in an environment like that. The risk of injury on a bicycle is even more minuscule than it is here, and specifically risk of an injury to the top of the head is just so remote as to be laughable.
That being said, I really appreciate more people in the U. Thanks for adding a voice to the discussion, and helping to break down all the crazy hysteria surrounding helmet usage. Our new bike plan includes things like cycletracks, raised bike lanes and bicycle boulevards. All of those are facilities that should not only feel safer and attract more timid cyclsits, but also actually improve safety.
Everything we have done has helped so far. I disagree Dave. When leaving the center, there is a handle on the door that one actually needs to push to get out. We build roads that are flat, wide and devoid of obstructions trees, interesting artwork, etc.
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When driving, it feels like we should be moving 40 mph as opposed to the stated limit of 25 — 30mph. Also, local roads in MKE are poorly maintained — smooth pavement is certainly not the norm. With that combination, who wants to ride a bike on that? Cars FLY by me everyday down S 1st easily doing upwards of 45 mph — do I want to take my son down that OR even contemplate a family ride? Heck no. The unfortunate reality is that when I want to take him to the Betty Brinn Museum or anything else downtown, we drive. But back to your practice of promoting cycling by dressing for success — this is Milwaukee, Dave.
That is what I try to fix at work. Encouragement is what I try to do here. I lived in Amsterdam for 20 years and it is true that there are a lot of bikelanes and there is safety in numbers. Also all the people who drive cars there are bicyclists as well, so there is more respect for each other.
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If you are not confident or want to ride at high speed, wear a helmet. Just get the numbers up. Safety in numbers has been proven over and over. Tasteful Biking outfits! Half of my 7.
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I even got hit while in the crosswalk, but of course, getting hit by a car or crazy spandex riders can happen anywhere. I think you missed main point 1: Bicycling is already safer than driving a car, even with airbags, crash bars and seat belts. People in cars would be safer if they wore helmets.