Sunday, October 21, 2007

In the news...

Fritz posted a link to this Gristmill story on Cycle-licious, in which a cycling father wonders about the safety of his son. It's a long post and worth your time to read.

Excerpts follow.

Cycling is safer than you think! Alan Durning


It also inspired me to dig into the question of bicycle safety more rigorously than before: Is it safe for Peter to be biking so much?

Here's what I learned: Biking is safer than it used to be. It's safer than you might think. It does incur the risk of collision, but its other healthbenefits massively outweigh these risks. And it can be made much safer. What's more, making streets truly safe for cyclists may be the best way to reverse Bicycle Neglect: it may be among communities' best options for countering obesity, climate disruption, rising economic inequality, and oil addiction.

The alternative -- inaction -- perpetuates these ills. It also ensures the continued victimization of cyclists and pedestrians. It means the proliferation of GhostBikes.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Yep, it's another reincarnation of fear as a tool of supposed bicycling advocacy.

Carlton Reid critiqued this 'news' when it appeared on Faux News with their own inimitable spin, calling bicycle-related injuries among children a pediatric 'crisis'. I saw it on Associated Content where it contained these two diametrically opposed sentences. “Most Bicycle Accidents Also Involve a Motor Vehicle” and “Researchers found that 30 percent of all bicycle related hospitalizations involved an accident with a motor vehicle.” Let's just say that I don't have a high level of confidence in this since proofreading seems to be non-existent. The report goes on about the high degree of danger faced by child cyclists, and drags up the tired, discredited old statistic that helmets can prevent 85% of head injuries. When I researched this statement once, I found the oldest estimate of head injury reductions said that helmets MAY prevent 40-80 percent of all head injuries. An estimate that broad is more correctly termed a wild-assed-guess. But the helmet nannies seized on the high end figure.

Here, kids, wear this helmet and you'll be safe!” It's merely a small part of learning to ride a bicycle safely, and it makes as much sense as handing my teenage son the keys to the car and saying. “Wear your seatbelt and you'll be safe” without offering any further instruction. That's the path to madness.

Another interesting statistic popped up this summer, and since my laptop crashed, of course I lost all the references. (I'm feeling lazy today, but I'll have to do that research again soon.) I read that the incidence of skin cancer far exceeded any head injuries. In other words, as a cyclist, you're at greater risk of contracting skin cancer than you are of receiving a head injury. Could it be that the nannies should be telling our kids, “Here, put on this sunblock! Now you're safe!”

(Another news item says, and I'm NOT making this up, “Scientists at MIT discover that blood might help humans think.” I'd speculate that the lack of blood is a significant factor related to the inability to think.)

More Children Hospitalized from Bicycle Accidents Than Previously Thought

Most Bicycle Accidents Also Involve a Motor Vehicle

By Patty Oh

Children and adolescents injured in bicycle accidents are more of a concern for their health than previously thought, according to a recent press release

The cost of bicycle related injuries to children and adolescents are nearly $200 million in hospital inpatient charges every year. Researchers estimate that of the 85 million bicycle riders, approximately half of them are children or adolescents under 20 years old.

Researchers found that more than a third of those children who are hospitalized have received a traumatic brain injury. This type of injury is very serious and can cause cognitive, emotional, physical, and social problems.

Bicyclists can usually avoid this type of brain injuries by wearing a bicycle helmet at all times. Researchers want to promote strategies to lessen both the number and the severity of bicycle accidents and deaths.

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Blogger Patrick said...

While my feeling is that many of these accidents were preventable in some way, part of me understands the nature of cycling and "cyclists". They are unpredictable, often uneducated, and even more often, children.

The question is, of those accidents, which ones proved fatal (or, what's the word...incapacitating?). I hate that word. It's so impersonal.

1:42 AM  
Blogger amh said...

Teach kids to ride, and teach them drive. Sign them up for courses if you can't teach them. Instill in children a respect for fellow humans, and a willingness to share. These are skills, like swimming, that we should be teaching our kids. We don't say 'here, put on this life jacket and you'll be safe swimming', but we do that with cycling? Why?

8:57 AM  

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