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Cycle Chic

During the last couple of weeks I've been thinking a lot about commuting on my bicycle rather than the car. I don't think it'd work for me at the moment, as I work almost a mile down a gravel road with log and gravel trucks speeding up and down it. (It's hard enough being in a car with the gravel trucks cutting me off as they roar onto the road from the quarry next door!) But someday I will work in a place where there's real pavement and then things will change. Hopefully.

Anyway, I was pretending that the gravel road didn't exist and was thinking of all the other reasons I could use to avoid the bike commute. The biggest one was sweat. How will I look OK in business attire if I'm riding my bike? My hair will most definitely flatten under my helmet and I'll have to bring spare clothes to change into and I won't smell nearly as fresh as a daisy.

This morning I was reading blogs on my Bloglines Reader (I still haven't checked the Google reader out yet) and found a link to Cycle Chic. 35% of Copenhagen commuters bike to work. I think that's fantastic - think of how many traffic jams could be avoided! And maybe we'd all be thinner too - I like that idea.

I see a conspicuous absence of helmets, though. I wonder what the safety stats are. I think the helmet, more than the spandex, is what regular people have the most aversion to when they think about biking.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
I used to bike 3 miles (each way, although sometimes I'd get a ride home) to work when I lived in King of Prussia (PA) in 1998. That was a hot hot summer and I arrived in business casual attire, but managed to not be TOO sweaty.

I walked to work last year (except when it was over an hour's walk one-way and then I took the train -- I don't have a bike at the moment), but now that we've moved, I'll have to take the bus (when maternity leave is over) because my workplace is on the other side of the loch and would probably take a few hours to bike.

When did the bicycle safety helmet thing start? When I was a kid, no one had helmets. I don't even think I heard of anyone wearing one until I found out my dad and sister had one some time after y2k and I thought they were just being really careful (until I moved to PDX and everyone had helmets).
Personally, I'd want the kind of helmet you wear when horseback riding. They really protect your head and look nifty (I'm not fast enough for ergonomics to be an issue).
Mar. 27th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
It sounds like that's the biggest hurdle for people - they think that in order to bike anywhere you have to wear the helmet and the spandex and have the super expensive bike that weighs half a pound. It doesn't have to be all or nothin' and I think that people don't know that. That's one of the things the blog I linked to talks about - just wear your regular clothes, and it's not a contest to get to work the fastest so you won't sweat a ton anyway.

I remember when the helmet law went into effect in Oregon. I think I turned 13 and the law was for 12 and under, and I remember being pleased that I didn't have to wear one. I could be mistaken, but I think it's still OK for adults to not wear one if they don't want to; but when I was young my mom had a friend who was riding on the bike lanes in Portland off of 205 I think (they're the ones that are walled in so there aren't any cars or peds or anything) and she twisted around to make sure her husband was keeping up with her and she ran into a wall and it killed her. Stories like that make me want to wear a helmet (though I think she was wearing a helmet as well). That and the scary drivers who run into bikers all the time. Luckily Corvallis is a super bike-friendly town and there are only a few places where there aren't bike lanes. Cory rides his bike to school every day.
Apr. 16th, 2008 09:42 am (UTC)
Hey, Mark got me a bike (from ebay). No helmet, though.

I hear, from my friend in Holland, they still make bike seats for kids. I remember riding in one with my dad when I was really little. I asked how fast we were going and he said, "Really fast! Maybe 20 miles per hour!" and I thought, wow, that is so fast!
Apr. 16th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
I've seen those big grey plastic bike seats that go on the back, and more recently enclosed trailers that people around here pull their kids around in; but I've also seen little seats that go on the bar between the bike seat and the handlebars so that you could both be facing the same way. I wonder if they make those - that'd be kind of fun.
Mar. 27th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
You're the only person I've ever heard talk about the helmet hair thing and having an aversion to wearing a helmet. Then again I live in hippy Portland.
Mar. 27th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it has to do with the kind of hairstyle one has - like if I had straight hair or had the style I used to have where I'd just throw it in a ponytail or shove it behind my ears, I might not care.

I looked into the whole Copenhagen helmet thing a little more closely and apparently because they have such a bike culture, where dozens of people commute on their bikes around you, there's less of a need for helmets than here, where cars are more likely to mow you down. I will be wearing my helmet when I ride, unless I know I'll be on the path that's way off the street or something.
Mar. 27th, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC)
For stats on helmets see the Bicycle Research Helmet Foundation at cyclehelmets.org.

There is little scientific evidence that supports the theory that helmets save lives.

In countries and cities where there is established bike culture, like Copenhagen, helmet usage is low, as is the number of head injuries. Safety in numbers and motorists who are used to sharing the roads.
Mar. 27th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
Re: helmets
Yeah, that's pretty much what I wrote above - when you've got nothing but bikes around you and you're all going 10 miles an hour, you probably won't need a helmet; but when you're on ruralish roads with drivers who either don't notice or don't care, I could see how a helmet might be nice. That or if you were the guy in Corvallis the other day who was biking quickly to the transit center to catch a bus and started to dismount before he was going a safe speed, fell on his face, and is now in serious condition at the hospital.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )