Author of Blog: Daniel Day

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Please, Take Off Your Bicycle Helmet

At the beginning of November, I read three stories in the Rivard Report on close calls on the Mission reach of the San Antonio River.  The complaint was that cyclist are riding too fast and passing two close to people walking. In these three stories, there was talk about removing cyclist off the off the river all together except for B-cycles while others complained that we should have invested in a separated path for cyclist.  What I find interesting is that these reports are coming in right after the City removed the bike lane on S Flores which to me sounds a little more than just a coincident.  The three stories I'm referring to are (in order) Slow Down and Share the Path, Cyclists, Sharing the San Antonio River A Growing Problem, and Where Was the Planning for Cyclists on the River?

Now we can waste some money and build a separate path or ban cyclist all together which will  solve nothing especially since District 3 Council
lady Rebecca Viagran told every one when she removed the bike lanes that the Mission Reach was a good alternative bike route to S Flores, but here's the simplest thing we cyclist can do, Don't Wear Your Bicycle Helmet.  Sound counter intuitive, but in reality, wearing a bicycle helmet increase your risk for accidents.  There's a reason why in the story, Sharing the San Antonio River A Growing Problem, they mention that the SARA is considering banning all bicycles except B-cycles on the Museum Reach.  The average b-cycle rider isn't safe because they're riding a heavy bicycle, it's because they're not wearing helmets.  I ride two 50 lbs bicycle, an Electra Townie Art 24, and a Montague Paratrooper.  Both Bicycles are equipped with my backpack, chain, U-lock, and several lights and a bell.  I have on several occasions, caught up with people on road bicycles not just on my two bicycles, but on a b-cycle as well, so I can attest that the weight of the bicycle really has nothing to do with going slow.  

When you don't wear a helmet, you slow down, and you pay more attention to whats around you. We do have some indirect evidence to support this simple solution of not wearing your helmet.  In Alberta, Canada, they passed a mandatory helmet law for kids under 18 years of age.  After the law passed, they found that the number of head injuries jumps from 5% to 10% and reduce the number of children cycling. Also helmets do nothing in protecting us while riding our bicycle on the road. In actual fact, when Ian Walker risk his own life to collect data, he found out that people pass him in cars with more room without a helmet than when he wore a helmet.  And to top it off, Bike Share system are virtually the safest way to travel and guess what the average if not the majority of these bike share riders aren't wearing while riding? 

Now I know somebody reading this story will ask, "hey, what about Bono and his head injury?"  My reply is that is just one case, not statics.  If you really want to know the damage that bicycle helmets are doing, just take time out and watch this TEDxCopenhagen talk of Mikael Colville-Andersen talking on how helmets threaten the bicycle culture worldwide.

So the next time you decide to take a ride down San Antonio River, take the helmet off.  You'll end up passing other people with more room to spare.  The addition to adding more signs or building a separate path is just a waste of money, money that could be better spent by putting a cycletrack down the entire length of Roosevelt Ave or S St Mary's.  I have constantly wrote on this blog if your going to put down separate bicycle path, put it down where it is needed for transportation, not recreation and I'll continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Speaking about recreation trails, there's an important petition going on right now to give people a choice in getting round town outside loop 410.  It is a petition to allow use of the Howard Peak Linear Creekways after dark.  As a person who constantly broke this law to get safely home after the buses stopped running, I can attest that the worse thing I came in contact with wasn't an ax murder, but a big ass spider with the entire web blocking the trail right underneath the Houston St Bridge by the AT&T Center.  I doubt that our city leaders will give into this because they're more serious about making sure cars have big dangerous numerous lanes instead of bike lanes, like Diego Bernal who spoke that a 1,000 miles of bike lanes where coming but when they repaved the stroads in his district, they failed to put them in or Ron Nirenberg who wants to plan for them and then leave the plan collecting dust.  I'm still going to sign it and I'm going to be publishing this petition after every story until we get a new city council in May.  I wish I wasn't right but I know for a fact that our mayor and city council will ignore this petition while people like me just go out an brake the law because I rather get a ticket, then show up on the morning news about another cyclist got hit or killed on the many stroads San Antonio

27-1: main image for petition.

27-2:  The Spider Web I encountered around 3:30 AM back in July at the foot of the Houston St Bridge on Salado Creek Linear Creekway.

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