Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stay safe while lowering that carbon footprint: Wear a bicycle helmet!

One of the most important policy directions that progressive believe in is reducing emissions to combat the climate crisis. For example, we can reduce our own carbon output by carpooling, which reduces single-rider trips (twice on a round trip). Or we can take the bus, which saves money in addition to reducing emissions.

Those solutions, while laudable, still leave a carbon footprint from the internal combustion engines they use. Walking is not an option for the overwhelming majority of us who have to travel longer distances.

So what does that leave? One of the greenest solutions, and one of the most practical, is the bicycle. Bicycling does not result in exhaust fumes, consumes only human calories, and provides an excellent cardiovascular workout.

Sturdy commuter bikes can be purchased for $300 and up, depending on one's budget. Serious racers, of course, spend upwards of $10,000 without a second thought. But most people don't need expensive racing bikes.

A good, heavy duty bike frame can last as long as twenty years, And depending on the quality of the components, they can be ridden for thousands of miles.

What about accessories? The most important accessory really isn't an accessory at all; it's as essential as shoes or pants: A helmet.

Compared to their safety value, bicycle helmets are a steal. Good deals can be had at bicycle clubs for $10 and up.

Helmets are important because they can prevent serious injuries or death. I know from experience... recent experience.

A few days ago I experienced a nasty bicycle crash. The bike was fine, my body was knocked around a bit (broken ribs, fractured clavicle, wounded pride.) I hit the ground and skidded for about 5-8 feet.

I was fortunate to be wearing a helmet.

The cost of my helmet (a high-end helmet for serious riding, but with the same safety rating as less expensive models) was about $45.

The value of seeing my family again is priceless.

The moral of the story: Don't ride without a helmet. Your head is worth more than the price of a helmet. Buy one and protect yourself.


Blogger lyqwyd said...

I am not trying to belittle your recent experience, but bicycle helmets don't provide as much protection as many people believe. While they can prevent you from getting minor scrapes, cuts and bruises, they are not designed to protect your head from serious impacts. They have lower safety standards than football, hockey, and baseball helmets.

The best thing you can do to promote safety while cycling is to tell people about some basic riding techniques:

Don't ride without a light at night without a light (cars can't see you)

Don't ride the wrong way on the street (cars aren't expecting you)

Don't ride on the sidewalk (cars are not looking for fast moving objects there)

Don't ride in the "door zone" (drivers don't look to see if anybody is coming before opening their door)

Look behind you before turning.

Those basic techniques will go a long way to make sure you are not hurt, with or without a helmet.

While I don't want to discourage anybody from wearing a helmet, the above techniques will go farther towards preventing injury while cycling than simply wearing a helmet.

Cycling is actually a safe way, being no more dangerous than walking or driving. Accidents do happen, but per trip they are no more common than accidents that happen while driving or walking.

I'm sorry to hear about your accident, I hope you make a speedy recovery

October 16, 2009 2:19 PM  

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