Morning Links: New helmet study finally studies head injuries, stop fat shaming bike riders, and the war on bikes goes on

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover after Friday’s unexcused absence. 

So grab your coffee and settle in. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

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Finally, a bike helmet study actually looks at head injuries for a change.

Most previous studies have compared helmet use to fatalities — but without saying how many of those deaths actually involved head injuries, or whether their injuries might have been survivable with one.

At least this one is different.

A new study from researchers at UCLA and LA’s Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science examined ten years of data on bicycling injuries from the National Trauma Bank.

They found that only 22% of adult bicyclists who suffered head and neck injuries were wearing helmets at the time of the crash, a number that dropped to just 12% for riders under 17.

Or looking at it another way, a full 78% of adult bike riders who suffered head and neck injuries weren’t wearing a helmet, along with 88% of riders under 17 years old.

Yet somehow, the authors conclude that the solution is mandatory helmet laws. Even though 21 states and over 200 local jurisdictions already require them for anyone under 18.

Call me crazy, but when 88% of injured riders under 17 weren’t wearing one, that would seem to suggest that helmet laws just aren’t that effective.

The study also found that women were slightly more likely to wear a helmet, at 28% versus 21% for men; helmet use was even lower for people of color.

Then there’s this.

Bicyclists who were wearing helmets when accidents occurred generally had less severe injuries, spent less time hospitalized, including shorter stays in intensive care, and were less likely to have died as a result of the accident…

Men were also 36% more likely die as a result of a crash.

Black bike riders were 16% more likely to be killed than white riders, while Hispanic riders were 17% percent more likely to die due to a bicycling crash. However, that may be due to well-documented differences in medical outcomes for people of color.

So whether or not you wear a helmet is up to you. And should stay that way.

It’s also important to remember that bike helmets should always be seen as a last resort when all else fails.

But if it does, you may be better off with one that without one.

Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.

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A self-described fat cyclist says she’s an athlete now, not in some alternative thin body.

And she doesn’t need to fix herself, thank you very much. But the attitudes of the fat-shaming bike world could use some work.

Seriously, take a few moments to read this one.

Because there’s an inherent bias in the bicycling community in favor of strong, thin and “healthy” bicyclists. And an all-too-real tendency to look down on anyone who doesn’t fit that mold.

I’d be the first to admit I was one of them, albeit unconsciously, even though there’s been no shortage of large and fluffy women in my life, including my own mother.

I should have known better.

But it took getting to know women who didn’t let their size dictate what they could and couldn’t do on a bicycle to get it through my thick skull.

Just one of the many lessons I’ve learned from the readers of this site. And for which I am eternally grateful.

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Why stop riding at the water’s edge?

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes is all too real.

A New York woman was the victim of an apparently random attack by two men who knocked her off her bike and punched as she was riding in a bike lane; in traditional New York fashion, dozens of people allegedly watched but did nothing to help her.

A British Member of Parliament said there was a major problem in his district with car passengers pushing people off their bicycles; local police said it actually happened just once, with the victim suffering a broken shoulder blade. Then again, once is enough.

A British man out riding with his kids had to use his mountain bike to fight off a man who lunged at them with a kitchen knife.

………

Local

A West Adams bike shop owner and real estate agent led a bike tour of the historic — and historically black — neighborhood, leading to the same questions of gentrification that have rocked Boyle Heights in recent years.

There’s a special place in hell for whoever stole a Los Angeles man’s $2,000 custom handcycle. Although someone should tell KNBC-4 the difference between a quadriplegic and a paraplegic, because they don’t appear to know.

In a bizarre crime, a burned body was found stuffed in a shopping cart at a homeless encampment along the bike path through Balboa Park; police say the victim was burned somewhere else and moved to the site. However, they’re not ready to label it a homicide, despite a rash of fire attacks on homeless people in the LA area.

This is why we can’t have nice things. A driver crashed into a parklet in front of Book Soup on the Sunset Strip, apparently due to a mechanical failure.

 

State

Plans for a makeover of the nearly defunct Brea mall include over 300 apartments, and a walk and bike path connecting the mall to the civic center.

Uber has pulled its Jump ebikes and scooters from the streets of San Diego, blaming the new rules the city adopted in April; San Diego is also threatening to revokes permits for Lime, and previously suspended permits for Wheels until the company made modifications to its scooters.

Imperial Beach has jumped on the Vision Zero bandwagon, joining just two other cities in San Diego County in committing to end traffic deaths.

A hit-and-run driver has been charged with murder, manslaughter while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license for killing a 61-year old Visalia woman as she rode her bike; he has a long string of priors ranging from animal cruelty to assault with a deadly weapon.

The CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group was lucky to escape with minor injuries after he was clipped by the wing mirror of an apparently driverless motor home while on a charity ride from Big Sur to Hearst Castle. There’s not one mention in the piece of the driver of the vehicle, or even if it had one. Thanks to Robert Leone for the link.

This is who we share the roads with. Pedestrians are taught to walk facing traffic, drivers not so much — especially on major highways — as two people were killed in Mountain View when a driver somehow sped the wrong way on a freeway. Thanks again to Robert Leone for the link.

Now that’s more like it. A San Francisco councilmember responds to a rash of traffic deaths in the Tenderloin district by proposing to ban cars entirely in the neighborhood.

Something doesn’t add up. San Francisco police blame a 73-year old man for making a left turn and crashing into a car traveling in the opposite direction, suffering life-threatening injuries.

San Francisco’s “Fruit Jesus” travels the city towing a half-ton of fresh fruit on a trailer behind his bike, delivering carfree to customers throughout the city.

An Oakland bike cop is a hero after resuscitating a clinically dead man who collapsed in the parking lot of the Raider’s opening game against the Denver Bronco’s.

A Berkeley woman was busted after fleeing the scene of a crash that left a bike rider seriously injured after she left crossed the man with her SUV, dragging him underneath it for several seconds.

A bike and pedestrian bridge in Mill Valley has been closed indefinitely after inspectors discovered one of the 12 piers supporting it has been “compromised.”

An obelisk made entirely of children’s bike parts has been named Project of the Year by the Sacramento chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Next time you visit Lake Tahoe, you’ll have a place to park your bike, after the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition installed 126 new bike racks, for a total of 340 in the past two years, along with two public fix-it stations.

 

National

Bicycling recommends eleven bicycling accessories that they say aren’t necessary, but will enhance your ride. I can personally vouch for the Polar Bottles to keep your water cool and drinkable for hours.

Outside reviews the new documentary Motherload, saying the story of one woman’s emancipation from the drudgery of the carpool foretells the coming cargo bike revolution.

Gear Junkie takes a ride on Walmart’s new $6,000 29er hardtail mountain bike, and likes it. And concludes it’s priced much lower than comparatively spec’ed bikes.

Apple is rumored to be working on a tracking chip that will be far more accurate than Tile, and could revolutionize the ability to track down a stolen bicycle. Or anything else, for that matter. Thanks to Mike Cane for the heads-up.

Arizona investigators offer a driver a Get Out of Jail Free card after he plowed into a group of bicyclists, injuring “five or six” bike riders, in a crash police blamed on glare from the sun. So apparently, in Arizona it’s perfectly legal to step on the gas when you have no idea what the hell is in front of you.

A new Denver map shows 400 miles of low-stress streets to encourage more people to get out and bike. We could really use something like that here in LA, since our existing bike “network” isn’t one, and isn’t likely to be one anytime soon.

A Boulder CO bicyclist says greater density means more cars. And more cars are bad for people on bicycle. Except the main benefit of increased density is that locations are closer, so people don’t have to drive long distances to shop or dine. As a result, it accommodates population increases without increasing the sprawl that forces people into their cars.

After a short rant about getting t-boned by a blond bike rider, a Durango CO writer gives a look at the vitriol, bile and threats spewed towards bicyclists on Facebook. But says the solution is for the people on two wheels to stop annoying the people threatening to kill us.

Good question. A Montana sixth grader wants to know why would anyone steal a kid’s bike.

A Nebraska mayor has summarily decided to rip out a six-year old road diet and bike lanes after the previous mayor spent $300,000 to put them in, because he says they confuse out-of-town drivers. No, really.

After being diagnosed with a neurodegenerative brain disease, a Massachusetts man set out to spend his last days giving bikes to kids in Massachusetts and Vermont; he now employs 34 people and has a stock of 2,000 bicycles ready to give away.

New York’s Central Park is now an obstacle course, no matter how you try to get around it.

Philadelphia church and temple goers enjoy relaxed parking regulations, avoiding the tickets they’d otherwise get. Even when they park in a bike lane.

A Virginia man describes what it’s like to move from bicycling’s second-class status in the US — if that — to ruling the roads as his family learns to ride like natives in the Netherlands.

Seriously, you just can’t win with some people. A retired Georgia police chief complains about a group of bicyclists riding single file on a narrow road, then complains when they start riding abreast when the road widens. And just can’t comprehend why people like to ride on narrow, curvy roads.

Some kindhearted Savannah GA cops bought a new bike for a 10-year old boy after the one he received for being student of the month was stolen just a week after he got it.

 

International

It’s back. Just when you thought it was safe to ridicule expensive airbags for bike riders, the inflatable Hövding bike helmet is out with their third generation, promising improved performance and faster response times. Though I’m going to hold out until they offer a full bodysuit that inflates on impact.

A Vancouver, British Columbia cop will face a traffic charge for colliding with a suspect who was trying to make his getaway on a bike as the officer pursued in his patrol car.

A nonprofit’s donation of 43 bicycles to two elementary schools in Canada’s Yukon Territory hit a snag when officials discovered it would cost more to ship them than the bikes’ $30,000 price tag.

No bias here. A Toronto columnist says “cycling zealots” are demanding “a cycling Shangri-La superimposed on the Toronto grid.Apparently she’s still angry over her failed attempt to ride a bike, and insists on taking it out on everyone who can.

Royal-in-law James Middleton, brother of Kate and Pippa, appeared thrilled to be riding his stolen and recovered bakfiets on the streets of London, as was his Labrador retriever.

No surprise here, as the Times of India says Bengaluru just isn’t bike-friendly, calling the city’s drivers “very rash.”

Vigilante justice can be swift in India, where a drunk man was beaten to death for attempting to steal a bicycle when the owner and three of his relatives spotted the man riding off on it. Not something I’d recommend, tempting though it may be. 

They get it. An Aussie website asks who’s really paying for free parking? Hint — It ain’t the people not paying to park there. Or even just the ones driving.

Strange and tragic news from Down Under, as a 76-year old Australian man died after crashing his bike to avoid an attacking magpie.

A 64-year old Singapore man opened a bicycle cafe along a popular bike path with views of jets taking off and landing at the airport.

 

Competitive Cycling

Thirty-year old former Slovenian ski jumper Primož Roglič carried the Vuelta’s red jersey to victory in Madrid. Meanwhile, Movistar’s directeur sportif called out cycling’s governing body for letting Roglič use a team car’s slipstream to catch up with the peloton after a crash on stage 19.

About damn time. California takes the lead in creating equity in pro cycling, mandating equal prize money for men’s and women’s cycling. Meanwhile, VeloNews asks the experts what’s the best way to build interest in the women’s sport.

Great story from Outside, as 78-year old Thomas Camero was happy to finish his third self-supported Trans-Am transcontinental bike race on his $700 second-hand Surly in 99 days — dead last and 58 days behind everyone else.

A British Paralympic cyclist opens up about the surgery she endured to relieve her painful saddle sores.

Bicycling examines the newest frontier in cheating, comparing e-sports hacking to the next generation of doping.

 

Finally…

Call it a very roundabout way to set a record. If you’re going to break into someone’s home, try not to leave your shoes, phone and bike behind.

And how many times do we have to say it? If you already have a record and you’re carrying meth on your bike, put a damn light on it already.

 

2 comments

  1. Alan Coovert says:

    Be sure and remind everyone that Sunday Sept 22, 2019 is World Car free Day. For just one day, do the planet a favor and give up your car. Walk, ride a bike or take the bus.

  2. ZZ Top needs to do a rework on “Arrested For Driving While Blind”

    “How could anyone be so unkind as to arrest a man for driving while blind?”

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