Morning Links: Bike helmet debate, CSUN LimeBike opens today, and why people keep dying on our streets

Doctors and medical groups have long led the push for bike helmets.

So it’s surprising when a leading medical journal questions their usefulness.

But that’s exactly what a pair of letters in the prestigious British medical journal BMJ — formerly the British Medical Journal — do.

The first one suggests that the safety in numbers benefit provided by more people using bikeshare outweighs the benefits of bike helmets.

And the other concludes this way —

The key issue in considering the use of helmets is of course the risk. In recent years, more detailed assessment of risk in personal travel in England has been published [4]. This shows that risk varies considerably more by age than by mode of travel. The range of risks experienced in bicycling are in the same range as faced in walking or driving, except possibly for the most elderly bicyclists.

In conclusion, there is no objective reason to consider even the promotion of helmets for bicycling, in the absence of similar measures for all other road users.

………

We mentioned last week that LimeBike had established a dockless bikeshare beachhead on the CSUN campus in Northridge.

Now they’re having their official unveiling this afternoon.

LimeBike Bike Demo and Inaugural Unlocking (1/25) at 1 p.m. PST at CSUN Campus Bookstore

  • When: Thursday (1/25) from 1:00 p.m.-2:00 pm. PST
  • Where: University Bookstore,18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330
  • What: An opportunity to learn more about how LimeBike works and hear from the CSUN Director of Energy & Sustainability, LimeBike’s LA Operations Manager, and other CSUN officials on how CSUN is leading the way to revolutionize sustainable transportation.

To celebrate the launch, the company is offering 10 free rides through the end of January by using the code LIMEWITHCSUN.

You can download the app to find and rent the bikes through their website.

………

This is why people keep dying on our streets.

The Los Angeles DA’s office decided not to file charges against the alleged hit-and-run driver suspected of killing a popular homeless woman living in Boyle Heights, saying it would be too difficult to get a conviction.

Even though a security camera showed the driver appearing to carefully drive around her body as he left the scene.

And even though a witness claims to have told the driver he’d backed over the victim as she was sweeping the street around her trailer, contradicting the driver’s claims that he didn’t know he’d hit anyone.

So once again, an innocent woman is dead. And no one will ever be held accountable.

Which is how Vision Zero becomes meaningless.

………

The LA Times’ Steve Lopez wrote about a father who became an activist against illegal immigration after his son was killed in a crash with an unlicensed man from Honduras.

While story focused on immigration, J. Patrick Lynch thinks Lopez missed the point.

The real takeaway of this article should have been how easy it is for people to get behind a machine that can easily kill . Whether it be an illegal immigrant, a driver with a suspended license for traffic violations, or someone who’s had their license revoked for multiple DUIs or has even killed someone already, if you want to drive, there’s really little stopping you.

Which is something else that has to change if we’re ever going to reduce traffic fatalities.

Let alone end them.

………

Local

Work has started on the Main & Spring Forward Complete Streets project in DTLA, including converting the buffered bike lanes on Main and Spring Streets to protected bike lanes. Thanks to 14th District Councilmember José Huizar for having the courage to move forward with the project, despite LA’s recent anti-bike lane hysteria.

A Caltech researcher creates art by pushing 800 bicycles until they fall over to better understand how we keep them upright.

 

State

The San Diego Association of Governments, aka SANDAG, broke ground the two-mile Rose Creek Bikeway, part of the planned 44-mile Coastal Rail Trail between Oceanside and downtown San Diego.

The San Diego Reader says mountain bikers don’t want illegal trails, either.

Ventura County has received $3.8 million to fund three bike projects in Ventura, Fillmore and Thousand Oaks, including $1.8 million for a three-mile bike lane on Potrero Road.

LimeBike and Ofo are complaining about San Francisco’s opaque licensing requirements after they were denied permits to operate dockless bikeshare systems in the city.

Too scary. A San Francisco man was busted for bashing another man with a hammer and stealing his bicycle; the victim suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The family of a Napa Valley man is suing Caltrans after he was killed when he caught a wheel in a railroad track crossing a highway.

 

National

Nice piece on the current demonization of distracted pedestrians, which is just more of the usual victim blaming while ignoring the real danger on our roads.

The Guardian looks at Seattle’s efforts to install bike racks to keep homeless people from sleeping on the street.

One of the NFL’s top prospects is sort of one of us — as in a unicycle-riding tight end from South Dakota State.

Streetsblog accuses the ACLU of having a dangerous windshield bias for their opposition to traffic safety cameras in Iowa.

Nice story. An Arkansas girl born without a hand can ride a bike for the first time after her elementary school classmates designed and built a handlebar attachment using a 3D printer.

A Wisconsin writer says winter cycling is dumb, but in a good way.

America’s only remaining Tour de France winner is suing a father and son in a Minnesota court for cybersquatting on at least 66 web addresses that infringe on the LeMond trademark; the father’s defense is that someone must have stolen his ID and registered the sites in his name. Sure, let’s go with that.

Minneapolis MN will get a temporary fat tire bikeshare service for next month’s Super Bowl. Hopefully it will work well enough they’ll make it permanent.

A Minnesota man was busted for possession of meth and driving with a revoked license while appealing his five-year sentence for killing a bicyclist; he’s also facing charges for hiring an underage prostitute.

Forbes profiles former Livestrong CEO, bicyclist and three-time cancer survivor Doug Ulman, CEO of Columbus OH-based Pelotonia.

Boston bike riders are demanding a change in the city’s auto-centric culture after authorities refuse to prosecute a truck driver who fatally right hooked a physician as she rode to work.

You’ve got to be kidding. Life is cheap in NY, where the widow of a 9/11 victim walked away with five-year’s probation for killing a bike rider while she was high on dope.

A DC writer suggests that there’s hidden racism in many complaints about dockless bikeshare in the city, which is popular with black youths.

After a hit-and-run driver put a bicyclist in the hospital, Florida Reddit users figured out the make, model and year of the car before the police could.

 

International

A Chicago writer bikes the backroads of Cuba.

They get it. A Canadian website points out why bike lanes are good for everyone, even drivers and business owners. Which should be required reading for anyone who questions the value of bikeways.

A Victoria, British Columbia chef is taking advantage of new bike lanes by opening a restaurant with a bike-through window. Which is a perfect example of how businesses can take advantage of the opportunity presented by bike-friendly streets, rather than fighting them tooth-and-nail.

A writer for Singletrack looks at the real reasons women bike less than men in the wake of a BBC report.

A British bike rider was lucky to escape with minor injuries after he was hit by a student driver, who carried him nearly 200 feet on the hood of his car.

Bicycling suggests a cycling vacation in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where you can ride where the pros train. If you can keep up.

Australia’s most notorious driver finally had his license revoked after 11 suspensions in 12 years, not that a little thing like that ever stopped him from driving; he also killed a ten-year old girl who was riding her bike in 2003, while driving at over three times the legal alcohol limit.

Merchants in an Australian town are fighting plans to remove parking on one side of a street to make room for bike lanes, over fears that it will kill their business. Proving once again that anti-bike lane bias is the same all over the world.

 

Competitive Cycling

Like father like sons. Twenty-three-year old Lithuanian cyclist Raimondas Rumsas Jr was banned for four years for doping, 15 years after his dad received a one-year ban for using EPO at the 2003 Giro d’Italia; sadly, his brother died last year under suspicious circumstances that may have been linked to doping, as well.

Former pro — and yes, doper — Alexandre Vinokourov pranked the members of his Astana pro team by disguising himself as an old man, then dropping them on a steep climb.

Speaking of doping, the Netflix documentary that blew the top off Russia’s state-sponsored doping program could win an Oscar, thanks to the nomination of Icarus for Best Documentary Feature.

Last year’s winner of the Amgen Tour of California has been ordered to stop touching fans to protect his health.

When you’re three-time world champ Peter Sagan, you get an audience with the pope. And when you’re the pope, you get a monogrammed bike in the papal colors from Peter Sagan.

 

Finally…

Stick a candle in your next energy gel. There’s nothing more French than eating foie gras on toast while watching a video while driving; thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

And polite bike riders always share their water. Especially with a cute little koala.

 

 

5 comments

  1. JD says:

    I bike all over LA, daily, going on 15 years now.. The number of times I’ve been surrounded by even the tiniest crowds of fellow cyclists … countable on one hand. The thought of routinely cruising down Wilshire or Olympic or Pico or Spring st without a helmet is totally absurd. I agree on keeping mandatory helmet laws at bay, but even insinuating that what’s safe in Europe is necessarily applicable here is just nuts.

    It’s amazing how stubbornly most American cities still cling to not being Amsterdam or Copenhagen. Despite years of hectoring from our bettors to hurry up and get enlightened already. So frustrating.

    Can’t imagine the grief experienced by the Rosenberg family, and God bless you, Dan. Ignore the insinuation above–you didn’t miss the point at all. Thousands of individuals who are here illegally engaged in activities wholly unconstrained by any accountability to the law or mores of this land — holy cow, you had to go looking for another point? Amazing.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’ve said many times before that I never ride without a helmet. But let’s not forget that they were never intended to protect against crashes with motor vehicles. Bike helmets are designed to protect against impacts up to 12.5 mph — in other words, falls, not crashes.

      As for the Rosenbergs, the article clearly stated that the driver in this case was in the country legally, and eligible for a driver’s license, but didn’t get one. And despite your assertion, everyone within the borders of the US is subject to all laws of the US and the states within which they abide; there are countless people behind bars for various crimes who entered the country illegally.

      So the problem in this case was not that the driver was in this country illegally, or that he was not subject to US laws. It’s that he chose not to obey them, but drove without a license and took a human life. Far too many people have no business getting behind the wheel, but do it anyway. And far too many others pay the price.

  2. Patricia Barker says:

    I can’t imagine why people keep dying on our roadways. . .I drive them every day and can’t count on enough fingers how many times I’ve had to take evasive action to keep from colliding with t bicyclist, motor scooter or even (like last night) some idiot skateboarding down a main thoroughfare during heavy traffic by splitting lanes, cutting off traffic and to top it all off, wearing dark clothing, no protective gear and not looking! This goes for those “messengers” who run red lights and cut off everything else, including pedestrians who MUST share the road with them.

    • bikinginla says:

      There’s no shortage of reckless people out there, on foot, bikes, boards and in cars. The difference is that the first three are a danger primarily to themselves, while the ones in cars are a danger to everyone around them.

      Vision Zero is based on the premise that human beings will make mistakes and do stupid things, and roadways should be designed in a way keeps those mistakes from becoming fatal, for themselves or anyone else.

      At the same time, failure to hold drivers accountable for criminal actions — and yes, a fatal hit-and-run is a felony — sends a message to everyone that authorities don’t take these crimes seriously, so why should anyone else?

      Maybe it’s time to stop blaming the victims and actually do something to keep people from dying.

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