Saturday, November 8, 2008

Random Bits on Bicycle Safety

Here are a few random items of interest I found this week:
  • Mandatory helmets in Switzerland—Switzerland's transport minister Moritz Leuenberger has not made any friends among cyclists with his plan to make helmets mandatory. The plan is part of a package of comprehensive reforms to improve Swiss road safety, which includes requiring drivers to take refresher courses every 10 years.

I have mixed feelings about this. I never wore a helmet before I bought my first mountain bike. After that I was pretty militant about my helmet until I got my cruiser. I must admit I never wear my helmet when I ride my cruiser. I guess to sum up, I think helmets are very important in most situations, but I just don't feel like I'm in that much danger of a head injury when I'm riding slowly on the bike path on my cruiser. (A particular pet peeve of mine, however, is parents out riding with their children. The kids are wearing helmets, but the parents are not. Whatever happened to leading by example?)

  • Police enforcing traffic laws for cyclists—Police in Santa Rosa, Calif. patrolled high bicycle traffic areas for three hours last Thursday and handed out 27 citations and 13 warnings. (Three of the citations were given to drivers who threatened bicyclists' safety.) The patrol was part of a two-year, $315,000 state-sponsored project to improve bicycle safety. (Original article)

I think this one is a great idea. Cyclists do incredibly stupid things—I see them daily. I also think that if we expect to have the same rights to the road as drivers, we have to follow traffic laws. That means riding on the right side of the road, staying off sidewalks and obeying traffic signals. By the same token, drivers need to be responsible and pay attention to anyone else on the road, whether it is a cyclist, pedestrian or another motorist.

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