The Chainlink

Should the entire Chicago community start biking on the left side of the street?

I would like to propose the idea of changing the side of the street we ride on. 

 

Biking on the left you can:

-See oncoming traffic. No surprises from fast cars in the bike lane behind you.

-See people in parked cars, and they can see you. You're less likely to get doored.

-Even if they do open their door it would be a glancing blow, and not a deadly jam onto the sharp edge of the door.

 

I know this is bound to be unpopular, but it seems to have it's positive points.

 

Of course this could only work if there was a city-wide consensus. Hence the discussion.

 

What do you think?

Views: 1376

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Yeah, ride on the left side into oncoming traffic! When you get seriously injured or killed your insurance or  the motorist's (who whacked you) insurance does not pay for your injuries because you were breaking the law.

Why can't you just follow the rules of the road????

Nice link.

James BlackHeron said:
Also, another prominent bike-blogger dares to make a stand on the issue of helmets and rational choices.

Agreed.  And "big glove" needs to be addressed too.  I mean, why should people be forced to wear gloves while riding?  Of course, the glove manufacturers will have you believe differently...

Anyway, it's your noggin and your hands.  I say do whatever you wish.



James BlackHeron said:

I have to wonder why, in a tirade against "law-breaking" among other riders, one has to throw in helmet-non-compliance when there is no such law requiring it -nor much empirical evidence at all that it makes cycling any safer.  The Dutch seem to do just fine, for the most part, without them.

 

Furthermore -The myth of the scofflaw cyclist

+1 on big glovetm

 

I love my gel-padded crocheted-back Spenco's.  It's more comfy than not wearing gloves and because they breathe so well, feel like I am not wearing anything at all.  But it's a choice like any others.  

 

I was test-riding a bike yesterday after rebuilding the hub and went back in for my gloves (which I had forgot.)  I wasn't planning on going far but the thought of the rebuilt coaster brake locking up and throwing me had me a bit concerned.    Previous experience on the pre-worked-on hub told me that coaster brakes on light bikes wearing 27x1-1/8 skins can create somewhat of an instability if they are applied just a tad too hard...

I can see a lot of contradicting angles to this, it's a lot like the seatbelt laws.  The "big picture" argument is that since we all to some degree share in the expense of injury treatment via shared risk insurance pools/Medicare, etc., society is entitled to set some basic standards. 

 

If they ever get that "socialized medicine" through, you can expect this argument to go viral regarding almost any activity that ever resulted in an injury. 

 

Nobody ever wore a helmet in Chicago when I was growing up, I finally got shamed into wearing one by a co-worker in the late 90s.  It offends my libertarian leanings, but otoh, I personally know a few people who will swear to the fact that a bike helmet spared them serious head trauma, so I grudgingly go along with it.

 

But, I thought helmets weren't required, but rather were just suggested.  That seems like a decent compromise to me. 

 

I'd like to do away with all kinds of dumb restrictions in Chicago's Commons which seem to be based on the City following a CYA approach as far as lawsuits are concerned.  The neo-fascist policies on the beaches are the WORST.  Don't swim past your waist?  You can't bring "inflatables" out in the water?  WTF.  If I swim too deep and I drown, I'd be appalled if my family sued the City.  If I'm not watching my kid and an accident happens, it's tragic, but it's my fault as the parent, not the City's. 

 

Are cyclists really required to wear gloves???  I like them just because it gives me something to quickly wipe away sweat on my forehead, but what's the rationale there, they give a better/safer grip?  Downright weird...


in it to win it said:

Agreed.  And "big glove" needs to be addressed too.  I mean, why should people be forced to wear gloves while riding?  Of course, the glove manufacturers will have you believe differently...

Anyway, it's your noggin and your hands.  I say do whatever you wish.



James BlackHeron said:

I have to wonder why, in a tirade against "law-breaking" among other riders, one has to throw in helmet-non-compliance when there is no such law requiring it -nor much empirical evidence at all that it makes cycling any safer.  The Dutch seem to do just fine, for the most part, without them.

 

Furthermore -The myth of the scofflaw cyclist

I know people who swear to the fact that their magic invisible friend, which they pray to often , miraculously saved them from X-harm and this is proof that their magical invisible friend exists.

 

Give me numbers, scientifically-reproducible hard evidece that their glorified plastic-covered beer cooler "saved them" from death or serious injury.  

 

Lacking that, I have to say that a scratch or dent on a helmet proves nothing in the order that it saved them from certain doom/death/head injury any more than the crucifix around their neck helped the superstitious person through certain disaster.

 

I'm all for people having the freedom to worship whatever idols they wish and believe all sorts of mumbo-jumbo spiritual gobbly-gook they wish. But I am sick to death of the "faithful" judging me as an "unsafe bicyclist" because I deem not to wear any specific religious icon they feel is absolutely dogmatically necessary to safely navigate a superstitious planet on a daily basis. 

 

Carter O'Brien said:

 I personally know a few people who will swear to the fact that a bike helmet spared them serious head trauma, so I grudgingly go along with it.

 

 

Strange how a post commenting on whether we should bike on the left side of the street has morphed into a helmet vs. non-helmet debate. 

 

Whether someone chooses to wear a helmet or not doesn't make them any better or safer than anyone else- I have seen just as many helmeted cyclists doing dangerous things as I have seen those that don't wear a helmet, so I wonder why this is always such a hot issue.  Illinois does not have a helmet law and as of now we all have the right to choose whether to wear one or not.  I like the freedom to decide whether I will wear a helmet, and believe that everyone should have that right, as there are days I like to wear the helmet and days that I don't.

James, stay with us here.  Do you know what is underneath most car bumpers?  Styrofoam.  Yep, the same stuff in a bike helmet.  To call a belief that this indeed would prevent head injuries "idol worship" is counter-intuitive to most, and in your case just a straw man argument.

 

Not to mention, as my plastic beer cooler has indeed prevented beer bottles from breaking when dropped, you might want to try to make a counter-argument that actually makes sense. Have you ever ordered anything off the Net that was fragile?  What did it come protected with?

 

An argument that at least sounds plausible involved a medical practitioner who  claimed that the fact that a helmet extends the shape of the head means it could resulted in neck injuries that otherwise would not have occurred.

 

As for stats, 2 seconds of googling found this, linked to by http://www.bhsi.org/stats.htm.  Your call for the use of the scientific method would be better directed at the helmet manufacturers, I have no idea how they safety test these things, but I can say they seem to be much improved over models just a decade ago.

 

Less than two percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. The most serious injuries among a majority of those killed are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent.1 Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have helmet laws applying to young bicyclists; none of these laws applies to all riders. Local ordinances in a few states require some or all bicyclists to wear helmets. A nationwide telephone survey estimated that state helmet use laws increase by 18 percent the probability that a rider will wear a helmet.2 Helmets are important for riders of all ages, especially because 86 percent of bicycle deaths are persons 16 and older.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

 

Take it for what it is, I'm just offering my opinion, as I don't really care one way or the other.  Wear a helmet, don't wear a helmet, it's all the same to me.  I wear a helmet mostly to make my family feel at ease, but I also can't find a convincing reason to not wear one when in Chicago traffic.

 

Melanie - a thread that starts with a ludicrous proposition trying to rally support to ride against traffic is bound to go all over the map.  I think motorists need to do a better job of looking at the world through the eyes of a cyclist, but clearly the reverse is also true. 


James BlackHeron said:


Give me numbers, scientifically-reproducible hard evidece that their glorified plastic-covered beer cooler "saved them" from death or serious injury.  


It's not that I don't believe that a bicycle helmet does ANY good -it's just a matter of how effective it is.

 

There are number of factors involved here:

  • Bicycle isn't THAT DANGEROUS -some people go years and years without so much as falling off one, even people who ride frequently and put on many miles a year.
  • There are many different safety procedures and gear out there to make riding safer and/or help mitgate injury in a fall.  Helmets are only going to help in a small fraction of bicycle accidents where the head is actually struck.
  • Head impacts cover a large spectrum of forces from the most iconsequetial minor bump to orb-smashing impacts that a concrete/titanium/anti-gravity force-field couldn't stop from instant pulverization.   Let's say on a scale of 1-100 where 1 & 2 are just a bump on the head, 3-5 are ranging from a concussion to a more serious head-injury.   6-12 are life-threatening and 13-100 will certainly kill you and cause "closed-casket sydrome" to a greater or lesser degree.  The bike helmet is only going to help in a small way.  Maybe bump  down that number 1-4 or so depending on just how good the helmet is and IF it is in the correct orientation that the helmet is even going to work.  We aren't talking about motorcycle full-face helmets here. Just a flimsy lightweight soft or medium-shell over-the-counter bike helmet.   Any crash harder than 12 is going to crush/dismember your head regardless of how good your current-technology helmet it.  I'd say it probably is more in the neighborhood of 1-2 by looking at some of the joke helmets I see people wear.    ti's only going to really help in those small percentage of bike accidents that it can cover and even then you still might be seriously hurt even wearing the helmet.  They really aren't THAT effective when one looks at the whole course of head impacts that are possible.
  • Many people tend to over-estimate the efficacy of their bike helmets in a collision.  This often leads to a false sense of security while wearing one that has been theorized to put one at an even greater risk as people with such a false sense of security tend to take greater risks and don't concentrate on other, effective safety measures and/or pay as much attention to traffic while riding.  

The helmet "debate" is just that -and there are two sides to it.  I don't think anyoe should be forced NOT to wear a helmet if they really wish to wear one.  That would be wrong and I would be for anyone wearing a helmet if they wished to wear one and against anyone who pressured someone out of wearing anything like a helmet, rabbit's-foot, crucifix, tin-foil hat -or any other icon that makes them feel better and/or safer.

 

I just wish that those people who want to wear such gear would leave the rest of us that same choice NOT to wear that stuff if we choose not to.  Is that too much to ask?

Hey, believe me, I'd love to go back to biking without the helmet. 

 

But I'm not sure I trust your physics here or would want to risk being in one of those (even small) % of accidents where the helmet would have helped.

 

My understanding of basic bike helmet design is that they mimic the basic safety philosophy behind how cars were retooled in the 80s.  That is, the helmet itself may appear to be flimsy, but the idea is that any contact shock is spread out throughout the entire helmet (destroying it in the process) directing the force away/around the head. In fact, you are supposed to ditch a helmet with even a tiny crack in it for just that reason, it's structural integrity has been compromised and it really won't provide much help (so your friends pointing to their dings might want to just pop for new helmets).

 

They did this with cars after they found that heavy chrome metal bumpers weren't nearly as effective as redesigning the entire automobile so that as much contact shock as possible  from a front or back collision went around the area of the passenger cavity, employing the doors, fenders, etc. to absorb the shock. Getting hit from the side would make that a moot point, of course.

 

I think the false sense of security issue is a good point. No idea if any studies exist which back that up, though.

 

I can't say I was too happy with being shamed into wearing a helmet ("what about your kid?! do you want her growing up without a father?"), but I also can't say I was forced to wear one, either.

 

I certainly have no interest in telling anyone to wear a helmet, spandex, or any bike-related gear.  But I would say that if someone is going to ride against traffic/at their fellow cyclists that they could at least use a headlight if it's dark outside!

 

 

 

James BlackHeron said:

It's not that I don't believe that a bicycle helmet does ANY good -it's just a matter of how effective it is.

 

There are number of factors involved here:

  • Bicycle isn't THAT DANGEROUS -some people go years and years without so much as falling off one, even people who ride frequently and put on many miles a year.
  • There are many different safety procedures and gear out there to make riding safer and/or help mitgate injury in a fall.  Helmets are only going to help in a small fraction of bicycle accidents where the head is actually struck.
  • Head impacts cover a large spectrum of forces from the most iconsequetial minor bump to orb-smashing impacts that a concrete/titanium/anti-gravity force-field couldn't stop from instant pulverization.   Let's say on a scale of 1-100 where 1 & 2 are just a bump on the head, 3-5 are ranging from a concussion to a more serious head-injury.   6-12 are life-threatening and 13-100 will certainly kill you and cause "closed-casket sydrome" to a greater or lesser degree.  The bike helmet is only going to help in a small way.  Maybe bump  down that number 1-4 or so depending on just how good the helmet is and IF it is in the correct orientation that the helmet is even going to work.  We aren't talking about motorcycle full-face helmets here. Just a flimsy lightweight soft or medium-shell over-the-counter bike helmet.   Any crash harder than 12 is going to crush/dismember your head regardless of how good your current-technology helmet it.  I'd say it probably is more in the neighborhood of 1-2 by looking at some of the joke helmets I see people wear.    ti's only going to really help in those small percentage of bike accidents that it can cover and even then you still might be seriously hurt even wearing the helmet.  They really aren't THAT effective when one looks at the whole course of head impacts that are possible.
  • Many people tend to over-estimate the efficacy of their bike helmets in a collision.  This often leads to a false sense of security while wearing one that has been theorized to put one at an even greater risk as people with such a false sense of security tend to take greater risks and don't concentrate on other, effective safety measures and/or pay as much attention to traffic while riding.  

The helmet "debate" is just that -and there are two sides to it.  I don't think anyoe should be forced NOT to wear a helmet if they really wish to wear one.  That would be wrong and I would be for anyone wearing a helmet if they wished to wear one and against anyone who pressured someone out of wearing anything like a helmet, rabbit's-foot, crucifix, tin-foil hat -or any other icon that makes them feel better and/or safer.

 

I just wish that those people who want to wear such gear would leave the rest of us that same choice NOT to wear that stuff if we choose not to.  Is that too much to ask?

My numbers are not scientific and  pretty much shooting from the hip. The fact is that there really isn't much as far as hard scientific analysis of the efficacy of helmets or much statistically to prove that groups using them are more safe than groups not using them.

 

Everyone who wants to wear one should definitely feel free to use them.  The helmets are getting better every year as well as more affordable.   My wife likes to wear one and she has a really nice Bern purple helmet that looks nice on her as well is comfortable and not too hot.  I have a had-shell skate/multi-sport helmet that I sometimes wear when I feel the need that seems to be much more protective than most cheesy bike helmets out there.

 

I come from a motorcycle background (both road and racing off-road) and wear a full-faced $500 helmet every mile I ride.  But a bicycle is not a motorcycle and the requirements for safety gear are much different IMHO.  If I felt that a bicycle helmet was necessary for riding I'd also be wearing one whenever I left the house and was a pedestrian.  I think the most dangerous thing I do all day is to cross Milwaukee St. by Cafe con Leche in Logan Square.  If I'm ever killed on the road I'm pretty sure i'll be right there -much more dangerous than riding in this same area.  Cars have zero (or less than zero) respect for peds in the crosswalk.  In fact I think they speed up when they see one to aggressively buzz them. 

 

I agree with you 100% on the wrong-way bicyclist issue and riding with lights in low-visibility situations.  I've got a Dynohub with a 3w headlight mounted low on the fork as well as a bright flashy LED battery light on my bars.  I run them when it even is slghtly dark out or cloudy.  I want to be seen.  I feel that helps quite a bit -but in the end I'm suspicious of every car out there on the road and watching them for the possibility that they are coming at me and am ready to ditch at any moment to save my life.  In the end I'm the one in control and need to do whatever it takes to keep myself safe out there on the road.  It's best never to get into that collision than hope some plastic-covered beer cooler will be my salvation. 

 

RSS

© 2008-2016   The Chainlink Community, L.L.C.   Powered by

Disclaimer  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service