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Dutch government and neurologists call on cyclists to wear helmets – but cyclists’ union says “too much emphasis” on helmets discourages cycling and “has an air of victim blaming”

The Dutch transport ministry is set to publish guidelines on voluntary helmet use, as local authorities have started to run discount campaigns to encourage cyclists to buy helmets

The Dutch Cyclists’ Union has admitted that it may be a “wise decision” to wear a bike helmet on a voluntary basis, but urged against placing too much emphasis on helmet use – which the group argued can actually discourage cycling and instil a victim blaming culture in the famously cycling-friendly nation – after local authorities, the government, and neurologists urged people in the Netherlands to don a helmet when travelling around by bike.

Next month, the Netherlands’ transport ministry will introduce new guidelines on voluntary helmet use, after provinces such as Utrecht ran a campaign in May offering a €25 discount on helmet purchases.

Gelderland, meanwhile, is currently in the midst of its own campaign which attempts to raise awareness of helmet use and promote “behaviour change” in elderly cyclists, with people over 60 accounting for almost half of all seriously injured cyclists in the Netherlands.

Utrecht cyclists (picture credit Visit-Utrecht.com)

> Dutch surgeons call on people to wear helmets while cycling

In a country with a distinct, deeply embedded cycling culture and where 28 per cent of all journeys are made by bike, only 3.5 per cent of Dutch cyclists wear helmets, which are usually confined to the nation’s sport or leisure cyclists.

However, calls for the Netherlands’ fietsers, its everyday cyclists, to wear helmets while out and about have been increasing in volume in recent years, as the number of cyclists seriously injured each year has risen by 27 per cent over the past decade, according to injury prevention organisation Veiligheid NL.

The Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research has also claimed that if all Dutch cyclists wore helmets, fatalities on the road would drop by 85 each year, and the number of serious injuries reduced by 2,500.

In 2022, 88,000 cyclists were injured in the Netherlands, making up 66 per cent of all casualties on the road. Around half of those collisions involved a motorist.

> Cyclists wearing helmets seen as "less human" than those without, researchers find

In light of these figures, two of the Netherlands’ leading road safety researchers, Fred Wegman and Paul Schepers, questioned whether the country could truly be said to support Vision Zero and similar initiatives without addressing the problem of head injuries suffered by cyclists not wearing helmets – even calling on the Netherlands to potentially follow Australia’s lead by introducing an obligatory helmet law.

“Modifications to cars can reduce injury in a collision, but in single-bicycle crashes, a helmet is one of the few possible measures to prevent serious head injuries,” Wegman and Schepers said.

“In case of a fall or crash, the use of a bicycle helmet was found to reduce serious head/brain injury by 60 per cent and fatal head/brain injury by 71 per cent on average, while it is found that the protective effect is the same for children and adults.

“In summary, wearing a helmet while cycling reduces the risk of head and brain injuries, and this reduction is higher for more severe injuries. A helmet obligation could be more effective than encouraging voluntary wearing.

“Perhaps the latter may be needed to increase support in the Dutch society for an obligation. Helmet use by cyclists seems to be a very relevant contribution towards zero cycle casualties in the Netherlands.”

> Why is Dan Walker’s claim that a bike helmet saved his life so controversial?

Meanwhile, a number of medical experts have also called for more frequent use of helmets, with Evert Pronk, the deputy editor of the Medical Contact journal, declaring his support for the campaign by admonishing those who purportedly refuse to wear helmets “because they don’t look good” in an article that featured the headline: “Looks good on you, a skull fracture”.

“I’m a huge fan of cycling but it’s important to protect ourselves,” neurologist Myrthe Boss, whose mother died after being hit by a motorist on a roundabout while cycling in 2019, told the Guardian this week.

“The brain is a very vulnerable organ with limited capacity to recover. If you fall from a bike and sustain a brain injury, this has long-term consequences. And a large proportion of people who fall while cycling have brain injury.

“A helmet doesn’t prevent everything but it does ensure there is less impact from the street on your head,” Boss said. “You see what it does in your family when you lose someone that way.”

Utrecht cycle junction (screenshot video Dutch Cycling Embassy/Twitter)

> Academic behind ‘cyclists seen as less human’ study: “If you have a safe and normal cycling culture, how could you see people as anything but human?”

Responding to the increasing calls for helmet use, the Dutch Cyclists’ Union, Fietsersbond, admitted that helmet use has its benefits – but warned against placing too much emphasis on one aspect of bike safety.

“We have the position that helmets don’t prevent accidents but it can be a wise decision to wear one on a voluntary basis,” the union’s director, Esther van Garderen, said.

“Emphasising too much that you should wear a helmet would discourage people from cycling sometimes, though, and has the air of victim blaming.

“I think it’s coming slowly, although there’s no such thing as a society with zero danger and we value our culture where you can cycle safe and free.”

> Gordon Ramsay says helmets are “crucial” for cyclists no matter “how short the journey is”, after accident leaves him with a terrible bruise

Back in the UK, meanwhile, the bike helmet debate once again made national headlines, after celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay said his helmet meant he was “lucky to be standing here” after crashing heavily while cycling in Connecticut.

“Honestly, you’ve got to wear a helmet,” Ramsay said in an Instagram video in which he showed off the severe bruising to his side caused by the crash.

Gordon Ramsay's bruise and helmet after cycling accident

“I don’t care how short the journey is, I don’t care the fact that these helmets cost money, but they’re crucial. Even with the kids, [on] a short journey, they’ve got to wear a helmet.

“Now I’m lucky to be standing here. I’m in pain, it’s been a brutal week. I’m sort of getting through but I cannot tell you the importance of wearing a helmet. Please, please, please, please wear a helmet – because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here now.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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192 comments

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Jj1234 | 1 month ago
1 like

It's important to promote as many catastrophic head injuries as possible otherwise how will we reach and sustain herd immunity. I'm happy to see that the statistical grasp displayed by this forum suggests the effort is well underway.

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john_smith replied to Jj1234 | 1 month ago
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Apparently the statistics prove that a helmet offers no protection whatsoever, under any circumstances.

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marmotte27 replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
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Relevant statistics do not show benefits from helmets that warrant governments, neurologists, TV cooks and commenters on cycling forums to call on cyclists to wear them.

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kingleo | 1 month ago
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Most cyclists that are killed were wearing helmets - this fact is kept very quiet.

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zweiblumen replied to kingleo | 1 month ago
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The salient point is not the cyclists who die but those who live. How many cyclists who don't die have a mashed up helmet and the kind of fervent zeal about the value of helmets that Gordon Ramsey demonstrated? You can certainly count me in that category.

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marmotte27 replied to zweiblumen | 1 month ago
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It has been explained elsewhere in this thread, which I admit has become rather long : helmets or not makes no difference to survival rates.

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john_smith replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
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"Explained" is a bit of an exaggeration. You have claimed it over and over and over again.

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marmotte27 replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
2 likes

Tell me you don't read what you comment on without telling me...

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john_smith replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
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Is English your first language?

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
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It's possibly whistling - but what difference would that make?

(I'm distressed to find out that yet again an enquiry leads to squirrels.  Is there no escape?)

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mdavidford replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
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You could move to New Zealand - apparently that's still safe from them. For now...

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Nagai74 replied to zweiblumen | 1 month ago
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Same here. Had an off at 24mph, hit head quite hard on the road, was more than a bit dazed. I may not have died if I'd not been wearing a helmet, but I definitely would have been in A&E at the very least. 

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john_smith replied to kingleo | 1 month ago
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Most of them were riding bikes too. Why is explicit mention never made of this fact?

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Nagai74 replied to kingleo | 1 month ago
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As are almost all motorcyclists. Your point is? 

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dh700 | 1 month ago
7 likes

Selected quotes from "We Are Cycling UK" overview of topic, for discussion:

Quote:

By contrast, the risks of cycling are not exceptionally high, and are very small relative to the healthbenefits. You are in fact as unlikely to be killed in a mile of cycling as in a mile of walking. The Government has endorsed estimates that the health benefits outweigh the risks of cycling on Britain’s roads by a factor of 20:1 (n.b. estimates from other countries place this ratio higher still).

• Given the 20:1 ratio, telling people to wear helmets would result in a net increase in early deaths (due to physical inactivity etc.) if more than one person were deterred from cycling for every 20 who continue, even if helmets were 100% effective at preventing ALL cycling injuries (i.e. not just head-only injuries).

Once you factor in the proportion of serious and fatal cycling injuries that are not head-only injuries, and the at-best limited protection that helmets could provide (they are and only can be designed to withstand minor knocks and falls, not collisions with fast-moving cars or lorries), it can be shown that it only takes a fraction of a percentage point reduction in cycle use for pro-helmet policies to
shorten a lot more lives than they could possibly save.

Quote:

In practice, the experience of enforced helmet laws is that cycle use typically falls by at least 30%, and more among teenagers. The resulting loss of cycling’s health benefits alone (regardless, that is, of its environmental, economic and societal benefits) is very much greater than any possible injury
prevention benefit.

Quote:

There is in any case a good deal of controversy about the effectiveness of helmets. As mentioned, they are (and can only be) designed for minor knocks and bumps, not collisions with fast cars or lorries. There is also evidence to suggest that: some cyclists ride less cautiously when wearing them; that drivers leave less space when overtaking helmeted cyclists than those without; that helmeted cyclists suffer 14% more collisions per mile travelled than non-wearers; and that helmets
may increase the risk of neck injuries. It is therefore entirely possible that helmet-wearing might have a net disbenefit even in safety terms (a point also suggested by some of the empirical evidence), not to mention the health and other disbenefits identified above.

 

 

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marmotte27 replied to dh700 | 1 month ago
1 like

Again, very good!

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dh700 replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
6 likes

You may also like this one...

Conclusions: There is no evidence that cycle helmets reduce the overall cyclist injury burden at the population level in the UK when data on road casualties is examined. This finding, supported by research elsewhere could simply be due to cycle helmets having little potential to reduce the overall transport-related cycle injury burden.

To cyclists who may be reading this, please stop playing into the hands of your enemies, and talking about helmets.  Helmets do not help, and in fact hurt, cyclist safety.

The problem -- and it's the only problem -- is road user behavior.  Cyclists are not exempt from blame there, since some of them do ride dangerously, but the enormous majority of the problem is the behavior of motor vehicle operators in public space.  We can fix that problem, if we want to, and we even have the tools already, but first we have to recognize it.  Blathering on about helmets and bike lanes is completely and utterly counter-productive.  Just stop.

 

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chrisonabike replied to dh700 | 1 month ago
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OTOH blathering on about a grid of quality cycle routes using separated cycle infra where needed (that's not just paint), motor traffic speed and volume reductions etc. is welcome!  Just ... not with the powers that be, or the media with an axe to grind, or with cool young controversialists who want to make a name for themselves, or ageing contrarians trying to stimulate their jaded peers etc.

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dh700 replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
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chrisonabike wrote:

OTOH blathering on about a grid of quality cycle routes using separated cycle infra where needed (that's not just paint), motor traffic speed and volume reductions etc. is welcome!  Just ... not with the powers that be, or the media with an axe to grind, or with cool young controversialists who want to make a name for themselves, or ageing contrarians trying to stimulate their jaded peers etc.

Building infrastructure dedicated to one vehicle type is a fool's errand and a waste of time, money, and lives.  We already tried that with sidewalks, a long time ago, and look how safe pedestrians still are not.  And now we're relearning that such does not work due to the proliferation of micromobility devices that are generally incompatible with their predecessors.  Even if you could snap your fingers and build bike lanes everywhere, and even if you could get everyone to hop on bikes and use them, they'd be useless because they'd lack the necessary capacity -- which we already see in heavily-cycled areas.  So then people are forced to use the other lanes -- which means your construction was a waste of time, money, and lives.  If you made those bike lanes sufficiently wide for that capacity, they'd look just like the roads we already have -- so again, don't bother wasting all that concrete and paint.

Construction is not the solution to this problem -- and pouring concrete and paint are some of the worst things you can do, in environmental terms, to boot.

Unless you are prepared to /vertically/ separate your dedicated transport infrastructures for each vehicle type, and eliminate intersections with millions of bridges and tunnels, you are just wasting time, money, and lives building bike lanes, and your only accomplishment is relocating a few fatalities from mid-block to intersections.  So yes, this is a bathering waste of time.

Bike lanes do not save lives.  They never have, and every municipality that has attempted a construction-based strategy has seen it fail, at the cost of many coins and lives, and then been forced to pivot to the only strategy that does work -- correcting road-user behavior.  Typically that plan involves drastically reducing motor vehicle usage and enforcing existing laws related to road usage.

And that's the thing, because if you can do those two things, then you didn't need to pour all that concrete and paint, and you only wasted time, money, and lives on that construction.  With properly-behaved road users, dedicated lanes are redundant, and without properly-behaved road users, they accomplish nothing.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, there is only one problem here -- and that is road-user behavior.  So instead of continually persuing the same strategies that we already know cannot work -- like blaming victims for their attire and building ineffectual dedicated infrastructure -- how about we try a different tack, and address the actual problem?

 

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chrisonabike replied to dh700 | 1 month ago
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Who said bike lanes?

I said "a grid of quality cycle routes using separated cycle infra where needed".

We sound like we're discussing slightly different goals here.  So if you are enquiring how we "stop all people being killed by motor vehicles" then yes - the only way is to remove the motor vehicles from people (and indeed, people from within those motor vehicles) * (see note in other post about places with "social coercion" like Japan and e.g. Hong Kong).

... on the other hand, it seems that the UK is globally in the "very safe" (4th in Europe currently - albeit percentage-wise the best in Europe - Norway - is quite a bit ahead).  Given we have mass motoring and given that we have widespread poor compliance and really low enforcement, that suggests that "police it right" is maybe not a major factor?

I must admit, I would welcome "safer roads" but I am equally interested in encouraging more active travel (and motor traffic reduction).  I'm less convinced how much more "police it better" will do before we run into rapidly escalating cost-per-reduction - and cautious about exactly how many more police we want to have.

Any change is difficult but (from the UK) it's rather difficult to see how people will be enthusiastic for more law enforcement on the roads AND also keen to leave their vehicles for some journeys without the provision of places where they're not mixing with a lot of motor traffic, or where they have to wait ages at traffic lights etc.  How come only a percent or so of people are seizing the opportunity to save a bit of cash and simply cycling local places on the roads - we know they're statistically safe?

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dh700 replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
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chrisonabike wrote:

Who said bike lanes?I said "a grid of quality cycle routes using separated cycle infra where needed".

That's an insignificant distinction.  Again, unless you are prepared to build and maintain millions of bridges and tunnels, and remove all or most intersections, "dedicated" infrastructure makes no difference.  This has been already proven, over and over and over again.

And, for the record, when I say "bike lane" I am including both protected on-street lanes, and separated "cycle routes".  There is no meaningful difference between them, from a safety standpoint.

chrisonabike wrote:

We sound like we're discussing slightly different goals here.  So if you are enquiring how we "stop all people being killed by motor vehicles" then yes - the only way is to remove the motor vehicles from people (and indeed, people from within those motor vehicles) * (see note in other post about places with "social coercion" like Japan and e.g. Hong Kong).

... on the other hand, it seems that the UK is globally in the "very safe" (4th in Europe currently - albeit percentage-wise the best in Europe - Norway - is quite a bit ahead).  Given we have mass motoring and given that we have widespread poor compliance and really low enforcement, that suggests that "police it right" is maybe not a major factor?

Absolutes are impossible, of course, so that first suggestion is nonsense.  With regard to your second paragraph, you didn't mention what metric you are even referring to, so I cannot weigh in on whatever you are talking about.  You seem to be saying that UK roads are sufficiently safe, and that does not seem to be a widely-held opinion.

chrisonabike wrote:

I must admit, I would welcome "safer roads" but I am equally interested in encouraging more active travel (and motor traffic reduction).  I'm less convinced how much more "police it better" will do before we run into rapidly escalating cost-per-reduction - and cautious about exactly how many more police we want to have.

Being unfamiliar with your jurisdiction, I cannot guess about the state of your police.  In many areas, and in my country in particular, the police who work at all work only a few minutes a month, and they spend the remainder of their time hiding out in the back of the most desolate parking lots, playing with themselves and their phones.  We certainly would not require more, but we do require better ones, and/or a mechanism to make them actually do their jobs.

chrisonabike wrote:

I How come only a percent or so of people are seizing the opportunity to save a bit of cash and simply cycling local places on the roads - we know they're statistically safe?

Per virtually every study ever done, because they fear drivers.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2022/10/05/three-reasons-that-people-dont-bi...

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chrisonabike replied to dh700 | 1 month ago
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Well, I've given you examples of things which actually exist / work in practice - perhaps we can make them work in theory to your satisfaction later?

I stay in Scotland but have travelled a little, including several visits one of the few countries (the only?) where there is nationwide "mass cycling" and the car has been (somewhat) tamed (NL). For "transport" and "pleasant environments to be outside a motor vehicle" it's hard to beat. (Don't live there as I still favour more relief to terrain...)

I'm no longer sure of what goals/principles you're arguing to achieve? (making the police do their job - that's important but the law turn up *after* the bad thing has already happened. Perhaps there could be a way to prevent things getting that far?). I wonder if there are some others you've not mentioned here which are important? Until that's established we're talking past each other.

I obviously agree with some of the things you suggest - and of course "less car". Not seen a (non-dictatorial / non-societal collapse) example of this happening, outside of examples I gave. Do you have any?

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JLasTSR replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
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chrisonabike wrote:

How come only a percent or so of people are seizing the opportunity to save a bit of cash and simply cycling local places on the roads - we know they're statistically safe?

If you have already bought a car then every mile you drive lowers your cost per mile. While you may spend a bit more on local journeys in terms of fuel maintenance etc, you are in effect spreading the depreciation and insurance cost so your overall cost per mile goes down the more you drive.  In addition bicycles are not seens as the most convenient way to take the family to tea with Grandma or indeed to take Grandma shopping so their use is percieved as being journey specific rather than a standard method of transport, that means that people have to actively choose to cycle a journey rather than it being the default get in the car and drive. 

If you made parking dam near impossible or prohibitively expensive in city centres then you would see more people using alternate modes of transport more of the time. Again the convenience of the car over public transport is that it goes door to door and no changes needed. 

Public Transport and Bicycles are not the best at moving a 1/2 cwt or more of provisions or goods over 5-6 miles especially if there are complexities to the public transport journey or hills. Electric bikes may well be the solution to this especially if there was a cargo bike version that could seat three behind the rider and or be used for loads possibly with an occasional tandem function. Do all of this and you may wean 20% away from their cars. My wife on the otherhand would still be in a car. The only other thing she may consider is some form of horse and buggy.

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chrisonabike replied to JLasTSR | 1 month ago
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Weaning 20% away from their cars would be great.  Or - what normally gets measured - increasing the share of journeys made by bike toward 20% *without* there being a general large increase in journeys.  That is expected, but we should confirm that we have a modal shift with a numerical decrease in motor trips.

However - that is the situation in some places now.  And people tend to still have cars in those places (lots in the case of the Dutch).  They just use them for the more specific uses you've identified (longer journeys, where the public transport options would be a significant barrier, when carrying lots of goods or people.

And the barriers to change / issues people raise that you note are real.  And yet somehow this has happened - in more than one country.  I guess the critical test would be to what extent it can happen where there wasn't much if any cycling before (e.g. Seville).  That would give something to respond to the naysayers and those who just don't believe it's possible from where we are in the UK.

In the UK - like most countries - the problem is several generations of mass motoring mean that not only is our environment built around motoring, but our culture - in fact not only "how we move" but what we consider it's possible or necessary to do.  We use tools to work on the external world but they also change our internal world - how we think.  The car is a fairly flexible / general transport tool - but not perfect for all uses.  And most people don't carry a Swiss army knife everywhere; they have cutlery for eating and different kitchen tools for those purposes.  And not everyone has that tool to get things out of horses' hooves because most don't need one!

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chrisonabike replied to JLasTSR | 1 month ago
1 like

Specific tasks - what can be done by "normal people" plus bikes (with some help from the built environment...):

Travelling with the family or taking grandma shopping?  Where cycling is convenient many people choose to do that by bike.  Transporting heavy goods e.g. a large shopping trip?  How often do most people actually lug 25.4 standard European weight units about even with a car?  Obviously people do, but perhaps less than we think.  The following is "transformation" and more than "just bikes" but in e.g. NL it's common to do several smaller shopping trips throughout the week.  I've certainly transported around 25kg on a bike a few times - which was at the limit for the tourer I was using.  If I thought I might do so with any regularity I'd get a trailer again (common ones will shift 40kg or so), perhaps a more appropriate frame and possibly reconsider e-bikes...

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JLasTSR replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

Well while my family consists of Kim and myself. When going to the pub or out to lunch I have been known to cycle on many occasions but Kim always takes a car. So really you could say I am duplicating the journey, but I enjoy the bike ride and Kim is not going to be persuaded.
As far as load lugging goes when younger I used to use a bicycle and an old pram fashioned into a trailer to bring hay bales in from the field I think I could shift 3 bales about 36kg. I wouldn't be able to do that at the moment as I need a new hip.
My shopping trip every week is 20kg horse food, 12.5 kg carrots, dog food 16kg, cat food 16kg, two loaves of local bakers white bread, two sandwiches and two sausage rolls. Kim gets pretty much everything else delivered.

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chrisonabike replied to JLasTSR | 1 month ago
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It sounds like you've worked it out between yourselves!

OTOH unless it's just the pair of you eating like horses (and dogs and cats) perhaps you could utilise some of that animal motive power?  But ... supermarkets probably don't provide good horse parking.

Pram as transporter is a good idea.  My last bike trailer was a child-carrying one - I used it for all kinds of cargo including to move flat with.

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JLasTSR replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

Supermarket hitching rails now there's an idea.
Amazing how we adapt the use of things we have to suit such devious purposes as being our own removals company.

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chrisonabike replied to dh700 | 1 month ago
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With cars - people get a private transport mode.  They go exactly when and where they want, door to door if possible, not sharing personal space with strangers.  That is important to people.  (Obviously in e.g. big cities with very effective public transport people do use that heavily).

Cycling (and walking - but not that's very efficient / slow and limited distance) provides that!  So far, so good...

... but it seems that people just don't want to cycle with the motor vehicles.  OK - apply your idea - just make them go away ... ah - but how are people who were driving going to get around (ideally using a *private* mode)?

There's a feedback loop here.  We proposing change have the job of filling in the box in the middle between the one we're in and the one we hope to reach (it better have its own feedback loop or we're fools).  And that box better not be "and then a miracle happens..."

dh700 wrote:

... the only strategy that does work -- correcting road-user behavior.  Typically that plan involves drastically reducing motor vehicle usage and enforcing existing laws related to road usage.

If only.  To make people abandon their cars and/or all take up cycling by "police it better" seems to be asking for a miracle to me.  I'm reasonably confident since AFAIK nothing like hat has ever happened.  That is - outside of:
a) places small enough to be exceptional e.g. small communities, some small islands where perhaps they don't have motor traffic (maybe they never did?) or it's very restricted
b) places with very-to-extremely restrictive societies and/or high levels of "social cooercion and conformity" (North Korea etc.). *
c) places at a level of development the UK was at when we had mass cycling, or below.

Where has genuine modal shift (to active travel) occurred?  Places with a network of sufficient quality cycling infra or places (like Seville) which have created one.  (I'm sure they also put some effort into policing and indeed many other things.  Necessary, but not sufficient.)

I quite agree - this is an unpleasant conclusion in that it suggests we have to build more before they will come (and we better build good enough also, AND  that's relative to motor vehicles, or they won't come or they won't stay).  But the good news is that separating bikes from cars means that in fact we need much less additional space (motor vehicles are incredibly space-inefficient), and we can do away with things like pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, roundabouts and other things which are needed for motor vehicles but not when you have only cyclists and pedestrians.  Once you get far enough along (process, recall) then you discover that there is less requirement for motor traffic capacity and there's support for reducing it.  So you can unpave the roads [1] [2].

How can doing that affect drivers? I'm not aware of *studies* but I speculate that if cycling is normal there's a greater chance drivers are looking for and expecting cyclists.  If they cycle themselves they may have more awareness of cyclists' behaviour.  They may be more motivated because they have more "skin in the game" - even if they don't regularly cycle, their family, friends, work colleagues etc. will do.

Again - safer and more convenient places to cycle are likely not sufficient but appear necessary.  (And no, it doesn't have to be "now we need to build a completely separate parallel network" exactly either).  Anywhere which has reversed the trend (declining cycling, increasing motoring) has done this, and AFAIK nowhere that has resurrected mass cycling after it had become extinct has done so without addressing this.

Now - like helmets - that may be more addressing psychology / social factors rather than the actual facts of safety.  But people in the mass aren't scientists (Spock truly is an alien).

* Question mark over e.g. Japan as they have a) good road safety stats and b) quite a bit of cycling.  Is it mass cycling?  Not sure.  They aren't a dictatorship but there is certainly a strong hierachy, and social coercion / cohesion is off the charts by most Westerners' understanding.  They're also not a police state - but I really, really wouldn't want to end up in a Japanese police cell.  (I've heard you may not get much rest, and a striking number of people confess.)  (I haven't visited Japan - have been in South Korea so have a foreigner's grasp of pro-social east asian social strictures).

Hong Kong - also apparently has good safety numbers but I know nothing about it apart from reputation for being less free-and-easy as time goes on.

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dh700 replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

chrisonabike wrote:

With cars - people get a private transport mode.  They go exactly when and where they want, door to door if possible, not sharing personal space with strangers.  That is important to people.  (Obviously in e.g. big cities with very effective public transport people do use that heavily).

I know.  Motor vehicles are a brilliant invention, and there are good reasons why almost every human being on the planet wants one -- or more.  That does not change without governments making private vehicle ownership unpleasant -- typically by making them prohibitively expensive -- which some municipalities have done.  Obviously, there are always some people who can afford whatever, but it has drastically reduced traffic in some locales.

chrisonabike wrote:

... but it seems that people just don't want to cycle with the motor vehicles.  OK - apply your idea - just make them go away ... ah - but how are people who were driving going to get around (ideally using a *private* mode)?

The idea you are describing is not "mine", I am just telling what does work, and what does not.  Construction does not work, and never has.  After wasting time, money, and lives on construction, every municipality is forced to pivot to traffic reduction and traffic enforcement.  Not complete elimination of motor vehicle, obviously, just drastic reductions. 

chrisonabike wrote:

If only.  To make people abandon their cars and/or all take up cycling by "police it better" seems to be asking for a miracle to me.  I'm reasonably confident since AFAIK nothing like hat has ever happened.  That is - outside of:

This has already happened, and is being proposed/planned in an array of places.  It's basically the core principle behind "Vision Zero" plans everywhere.  Among a growing list: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/sep/18/paradise-life-spanish-cit...

More to the point, however, if drivers are so attached to their cars, as you accurately describe, then let's get serious about making sure that valuable privilege is respected.  We do that by actually enforcing the laws that are already on the books, and punishing violators.  Drivers need to fear losing that important privilege -- for something less than killing a handful of innocent travelers.

chrisonabike wrote:

Where has genuine modal shift (to active travel) occurred?  Places with a network of sufficient quality cycling infra or places (like Seville) which have created one.  (I'm sure they also put some effort into policing and indeed many other things.  Necessary, but not sufficient.)

And that parenthetical note is the point.  If you can clean up road-user behavior, all that construction was wasted.  Again, with properly-behaved road users, single-vehicle dedicated infrastructure is redundant.  Without properly-behaved road users, single-vehicle dedicated infrastruction is useless.

So, why waste the time, money, and lives building it?  Just for kicks?

chrisonabike wrote:

I quite agree - this is an unpleasant conclusion in that it suggests we have to build more before they will come (and we better build good enough also, AND  that's relative to motor vehicles, or they won't come or they won't stay).  But the good news is that separating bikes from cars means that in fact we need much less additional space (motor vehicles are incredibly space-inefficient),

This is a little-bit oversimplified.  Single-occupant motor vehicles sans cargo are space-inefficient, but that's only one scenario.  On the other hand, a car loaded with a few weeks' groceries, is not, since that'd require a whole bunch of trips to retrieve with a typical bicycle.

Furthermore, and more on-topic, space-efficiency is an enormous argument against building single-vehicle dedicated infrastructure versus addressing the actual problem of road-user behavior.  Building infrastructure dedicated to each type of vehicle that comes along necessarily means space is wasted when each infrastructure is utilized under capacity.  In contrast, if we just have roads, that are shared by everyone, we maximize our space-efficiency in the transport sector.

 

chrisonabike wrote:

* Question mark over e.g. Japan as they have a) good road safety stats and b) quite a bit of cycling.  Is it mass cycling?  Not sure. 

The Japan situation is quite simple, they enforce their traffic laws.  Specifically, if you hit a cyclist or a pedestrian with your motor vehicle, you go to jail.  No other questions asked.  You do not collect $200.  You go to jail.  People are certain of this outcome, and so they take great pains to avoid it.  You can go to jail for tons of other things, too, even tailgating a car with your bicycle (!).

That, works -- as I've been saying.

 

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