October 10, 2007

It's not about the bike.

Editorial in The Standford Daily, linked from Pinch Flat News:

A few years ago, students in a Stanford Institute of Design class, Mechanical Engineering 377: “Experiences in Innovation and Design Thinking,” erected a makeshift sculpture of crashed bikes in homage to the Stanford biking experience. The Daily feels that this work of art is symbolic of the mess that is campus biking and believes steps should be taken to rectify the chaotic and dangerous state of affairs that exists at the Farm.

Assuming that Stanford will never be a biking utopia, the most important thing a biker can do to protect him or herself is what our parents have been drilling into our (unprotected) heads for years — wear a helmet. The Stanford Hospital sees about 200 patients every year as a result of bike accidents (“Bike accidents abound on campus,” Nov. 8, 2004), and police statistics from 2005 show that an average of two students per week were hospitalized for bike accidents (“Police ban bikes from Main Quad,” Sept. 19, 2006). If these statistics merely seem like a bunch of numbers, look around your IHUM or bio core lecture — and picture about half of the class in the hospital over the course of the year.

Wearing a helmet is often deemed “uncool,” and the numbers stand behind this notion: only two percent of undergraduates wear helmets (“Bike accidents abound on campus,” Nov. 8, 2004). In a university filled with intelligent people, one would think that safety would trump looking suitably hip.

What good is all that brainpower if it’s lying on the pavement? What if the next Sergei Brin is felled in the newly enhanced Intersection of Death and a helmet could have averted catastrophe? Ruining a perfectly coifed hairdo is a small price to pay for safety...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"the most important thing a biker can do to protect him or herself ... wear a helmet."

No, no, no. That is completely false safety message. Increased numbers of cyclists is probably the most significant safety improvement, but for individual actions, proper cycle training is the most important!

Helmets are low energy absorbers that will protect you from minor bangs and scratches. Suggesting that they are essential or will prevent brain damage is irresponsible and misleading.

They are not designed for accidents between cycle and cars, which will far exceed the helmets rating and in these sort of impacts most will fail (crack) without any deforming energy absorption. i.e. will provide negligable protection.