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Bike News Roundup: Helmets and life jackets

It’s the weekly bike news roundup! As always, this is an open thread.

First up, here’s an Aussie heltmet law parody video promoting mandatory life jacket laws. Of course, just like the helmet law, King County actually already has a life jacket law.

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Pacific Northwest News:

Halftime show! This video has been making the rounds on the web the past few days. While it is entertaining to see someone do trials tricks on an actual Tour de France, full-carbon road bike, WTF IS WITH THE SEXIST WD-40 BULLSHIT AT THE END!? I didn’t see it the first time because I turned the video off at the credits, but Grease Rag caught it and is all over it.

And for the record, WD-40 is not bike lube. Never use it on your chain. It will make things worse (and, apparently, more sexist).

Grease Rag recommends you watch this bad ass 14-year-old young woman instead:

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14 responses to “Bike News Roundup: Helmets and life jackets”

  1. Gary

    It’s actually not clear on whether Amazon supported the South Lake Union Street car or not. Vulcan claimed at the time that their tenants would want it. If Amazon was in the process of relocating, highly likely as they came from a previous Vulcan facility at Union Station, they could have wanted it. However there is a very vocal and strong contingent of bicycle riders at Amazon and over the years the facilities for riding have gotten a lot better. (More cages, more showers, towels for all locations etc.)

    Thing is, many many people still use the bus system to get to South Lake Union and with the tunnel station at Westlake, the street car is a nice connection. And Amazon and others have paid for better service by adding an additional run during the afternoon commute.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      To be clear, I’m not against the SLU Streetcar, just the way it was designed. Especially once it extends to the U District, it will be a great transit route. But it should never have been designed to be so dangerous for people cycling. However, add a center cycle track between downtown and SLU Park (and the planned cycle track to Fremont), and we would have a pretty awesome bike and transit route through the neighborhood: http://seattlebikeblog.com/2012/09/18/regional-council-recommends-westlake-cycle-track-more/

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        And, of course, a cycle track on Eastlake to follow the streetcar alignment to the U District…

      2. Gary

        Well make no mistake about it, I am, and was 100% against a surface transit solution to the problem of Westlake to South Lake Union. I still think that making the existing Monorail into a loop that swung around to SLU would have been a lot smarter…. but heck what do I know.

  2. Law Abider

    The helmet law is one of those unfortunate laws that needs to be in place. I would hope everyone would be intelligent enough to want to wear a helmet, regardless of the law, since it protects your most important organ (hipsters not included of course). But it’s one of those situations where everyone pays when someone chooses not to wear a helmet and gets in an accident (in the form of uninsured emergency room visits).

    In fact, I would support bicycle police patrols to educate at first, and then ticket after a grace period, those who don’t wear helmets in the city. Maybe they can also crack down on some of the repeated running of stop signs and red lights that makes me embarrassed to be a biker.

    Of course, we could rewrite the law that by not wearing a helmet, you accept that either you have insurance or cash to pay for emergency room bills that result from lack of a helmet or you don’t get medical help. But since that is not how a civilized society should operate, we instead dictate that all cyclists should wear helmets, just like drivers wear seat belts, boaters wear life jackets and motorcyclists also wear helmets.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Helmet enforcement patrols would be a tremendous waste of public safety resources. Road collisions are not caused by a lack of helmets, they are caused by breaking traffic laws. Ticketing people (regardless of mode) for speeding, running red lights, failing to yield at crosswalks, etc are far better uses of our public safety dollars.

      For bike-specific safety, promoting proper working lights is much more effective than enforcing helmets. Stings where people without lights are given them for free are fantastic. Cascade and the city have teamed up to do this in the past (I hope it happens again). Having lights that work prevents collisions from happening in the first place, which is far more important than wearing a protective headpiece that might help once a collision has already occurred.

      1. Law Abider

        Seems like whenever I hear about an accident where the cyclist had to go to the hospital, there’s always a report of the cyclist not wearing a helmet. Granted, like you said, some of the accidents would still have resulted in an ER visit regardless of a helmet, but a helmet can be the difference of cracking your skull on the pavement, versus a bad case of whiplash.

        So why not promote and enforce both? Helmets plus bike lights equals cyclist having a fighting chance on our crazy Seattle roads. The police cyclist patrols wouldn’t need to just be about helmets, but could also enforce lights, brakes, traffic laws, etc.

    2. stuart

      I disagree. The law should be rewritten to say that any motor vehicle operator who causes injury to a pedestrian or bicyclist is presumed to be 100% liable, unless there are extreme mitigating circumstances (e.g., the pedestrian/bicyclist was deliberately committing suicide). Motor vehicles are dangerous things, and the people who operate them should be entirely liable for any harm they cause.

      If motor vehicles were driven safely and with due care for pedestrians/bicyclists, the helmet law would be unnecessary. I’m pretty certain that 95%+ of bicycle head injuries would involve a motor vehicle. As for the remaining 5%, the medical costs incurred would be massively outweighed by the increased number of bicycle trips that would be enabled by repealing the law, which would decrease chronic medical costs.

      1. Law Abider

        Yikes, your first paragraph is a highly ignorant thing to say and is something that the highly vocal 5% of cyclists say that embarrasses the other 95% of us cyclists and makes us look like complete morons to non-cyclists. We aren’t in and do not wish to wage an unneeded war of persecution on cars.

        In all my years of biking, I can tell you with certain that incidents are definitely not always the fault of cars. It’s about 50/50 split. I have seen bikes swerving from bike lanes into traffic lanes and back. How is a car supposed to avoid an incident like that? I’ve seen a bike running a stop sign causing a semi truck to almost jackknife. How is the semi supposed to avoid an incident like that?

        I agree that the law needs to be more aggressive against cars that cause incidents due to negligence or aggression. However, I think the law also needs to punish cyclists who cause incidents due to negligence or aggression. Why should we not be liable for our actions?

        And while helmets do a lot of good in collisions with cars, they also help significantly with other incidents. Bike on bike collisions aren’t unheard of, I see them often, usually as a result of one cyclist being negligent. I’ve seen cyclists run into buildings. Hell, I’ve seen a cyclist fall off their bike when they were at a standstill, hitting their helmet on the ground!

        To wrap it up though, I think that cyclists will need to accept regulation and enforcement before we are taken seriously by users of other forms of transportation.

    3. Jeremy

      We would also need to ensure that all car occupants wear helmets, that the elderly wear helmets, especially in showers, or before attempting stairs, and so on and so forth, “if a helmet can save just one life, then damn the statistics” as the Major of the (not so Northward) Vancouver put it.

      What actual civilized societies do is not have helmet laws, and instead build bicycle infrastructure, create walkable cities, and provide a variety transit options. Uncivilized nations instead waste time pondering laws to outlaw the throwing of things at “vulnerable road users” and somehow remain “you can have any transportation option, as long as it is blacktop” car hells.

  3. Doug Bostrom

    One difference between lifejackets and helments*: when you’re crew overboard and are drowning only a few yards from the lifejacket the Coast Guard did its best to encourage you to wear, you have a little more time to think about how stupid you are.

    Similarity: object lessons on statistical wisdom are often delivered only belatedly.

    *BSNYC approved spelling!

  4. Gary

    From looking at the daily counts on the Freemont bridge, we either have a lot of fair weather riders, or a lot of attendees at yesterday’s opening… :>

    Still it will be interesting to see the “actual” counts.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      What do you mean? There’s only one data point. They upload results at the end of each day. The counts for “today” are really just a blip from the upload.

  5. […] one more thing. In my last post I forgot to thank Seattle Bike Blog for kindly linking to a few of my posts on the blog, and also mentioning them on Twitter. There […]

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