To Helmet or not to Helmet

Elisabeth Rosenthal has a piece in the New York Times Sunday Review about whether helmets should be worn when cycling. Her argument is that, yes, helmets probably save lives1 but making them mandatory actually discourages people from cycling.

Recent experience suggests that if a city wants bike-sharing to really take off, it may have to allow and accept helmet-free riding. A two-year-old bike-sharing program in Melbourne, Australia — where helmet use in mandatory — has only about 150 rides a day, despite the fact that Melbourne is flat, with broad roads and a temperate climate. On the other hand, helmet-lax Dublin — cold, cobbled and hilly — has more than 5,000 daily rides in its young bike-sharing scheme. Mexico City recently repealed a mandatory helmet law to get a bike-sharing scheme off the ground. But here in the United States, the politics are tricky.

Last year, I had the worst bike accident of my life. I was coming from the north side of the city. As I came around the corner of the Matt Talbot bridge – at a point where two cycle lanes cross over each other in the middle of a pedestrian crossing – when another cyclist on a Dublin Bike was coming the other way. We both saw each other too late and we both swerved in the same direction.

The results weren’t pretty.

I landed on my head, lost consciousness for a few minutes and was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

There were two things I realised. First is that I don’t think cycling helmets should be mandatory, but for my style of cycling, which I would call ‘assertive’ rather than ‘aggressive’, I probably should wear one. The other thing I realised is that people on Dublin Bikes are, generally, awful and dangerous cyclists. They have no idea of the rules of the road. No concept of spacial awareness. They’re oblivious to other road-users (and especially, other cyclists). What I have observed myself is that their first use of a Dublin Bike is usually the first time they’ve been on a bike in a few years, so they’re a bit wobbly and nervous. And then, after about fifteen minutes, they remember how much fun cycling is and they start cycling like lunatics. And that’s when you have to watch out for them. Because they are the heaviest bikes on the road and an accident with them will fuck you up.

Believe me. They will fuck you up.

So, speaking as a cyclist, I guess my point is that I think bicycle helmets shouldn’t be mandatory. Regardless of what I just said about the majority of Dublin Bike users, I think the Dublin Bike scheme is a terrific asset to the city and I also believe that it would get no use if people were forced to buy and use a helmet before using one of the bikes. I think that the decision should be left to the individual cyclist, that people should wear a helmet if they feel like they need it.


  1. Although she seems to suggest the life-saving benefits of helmets are largely apocryphal

     

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Advice

Floss at least once every day; buy the nice kind that doesn’t chop your fingers up. If you’re wearing a jacket, you probably need both a pocket square and a tie. You don’t need more than one computer anymore. Build a fire pit in your backyard at all costs. Sync everything. Try to strike up friendly conversations with every driver who calls you a cunt. Splurge on a cell phone with a data plan; if you already have one, splurge on a solid state drive; if you have both, you don’t need anything else.

Nickd gives some great advice about capital-L living. I really want a fire pit now.

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Solo

Won’t be able to not hear this now. Thanks.

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The Weird Adventures of Tintin, by H. P. Lovecraft

fckyeahhplovecraft:

Muzski’s reinterpretation of Hergé’s famous comic series feature Tintin, Captain Haddock, Snowy and all your beloved characters in an exciting new light as they unwittingly stumble upon soul-shattering vistas from Beyond.
Watch our brave adventurers flee from shoggoths, Deep Ones, fish folk, ghouls, Formless Spawn, Mi-Go, Elder Things, nightgaunts, Old Ones, Outer Gods and foreigners (i.e. non-Anglo-Saxons) as they face many an existential crisis regarding their insignificance on a cosmic scale!
What eldritch horrors await our companions as they unearth the secrets from untold aeons in the dark corners of the earth? Will they heroically flee from these abominations from the stars, or will they choose the merciful oblivion that is death by throwing themselves on squalid pavements or shooting themselves in the head? And what trick does Nyarlathotep have up ‘His’ sleeve this time?

Find out in The Weird Adventures of Tintin, by H. P. Lovecraft!

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Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods is the best deconstruction of the horror genre since Scream. Actually, fuck that. Cabin in the Woods is much better than Scream. Wes Craven was happy enough to just list out the tropes of slasher movies, leading to a nudging, winking circle-jerk of “You know we know these tropes. And now we know you know we know them.”

Cabin in the Woods is better than that. It lists out the cliches — the things we love about horror movies — and gives them context. And not in some po-faced way. It’s got convictions and goddamn if it doesn’t follow through on them. Asked if he had any plans for a sequel, director Drew Goddard answered “Have you seen the ending to my movie?”

You need to see this ending. And the middle. And also the beginning. Multiple times, if possible.

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Things that have made me cry (this week)

Caine’s Arcade

I usually hate flashmobs. I even hate the idea of them. I think they’re usually selfish things, usually at someone’s expense (c.f. Improv Everywhere’s “Best Gig Ever”). But this was genuinely sweet. And I love that random strangers have chipped in over $40,000 to put this kid through college.

An Invocation for Beginnings

I’m so glad Ze Frank is back, because the world needs more disarmingly sincere people who rarely blink. The sentiment at 1:09 is just beautiful.

Fiona’s Rescue

WAAAAH.

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Suspended

Over the weekend, while my wife was away, I came up with a few dumb ideas for things to keep me busy. One was an iPhone app that’s maybe a little too PG-13 for this blog – let’s just say it involved dicks and iPhone pictures thereof. The other was a twitter bot that would reply whenever someone tweeted one of the main lyrics from Ice Cube’s Today was a Good Day. You tweet “Didn’t have to use my AK”, it would reply and say “@foo didn’t have to use his AK. Today was a good day”. I spent about an hour writing it and launched it on Monday night.

I guess some people didn’t get the joke (although I was amazed at the amount of retweets and favourites it got), because the account was suspended today.

This is my first time seeing the Twitter “account suspended” page and I’m amazed. I’m amazed at how stern it is. I’m amazed that there’s nothing you can do about the fact your account has been suspended except tick the two checkboxes which say “I promise I’ll be good from now on”. I’m amazed there’s no contact details if you want to appeal this decision. But mostly, I’m just amazed there’s no option to say “Fuck it, this joke isn’t worth it – delete this account”.

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