Related links: De's Bicycle Page and Alternative Transit Page,
Helmet Sound Bites
Do Helmets Work?
URLs for Reference
Conventional Beliefs about Helmets
Meditations on the Helmet Wars

How Can We Make Cycling Safer?

900 deaths per annum in a population of more than a quarter billion is a statistically insignificant mortality rate in modern America. But this is not to say that I think 900 cyclist deaths per year is acceptable. Pas du tout!
I have mocked and debunked and disputed the Helmet Faith, and said repeatedly that helmets -- whether voluntarily or forcibly applied -- are not an effective way to ensure cyclist safety. The only way to ensure cyclist safety is to reduce the risk of crashing -- especially being crashed into by cars.

So how would I make cycling safer?

  1. Tame the cars: reduce speed limits in all residential and dense urban areas, and ban cars entirely from central city and town shopping and business areas where there's dense pedestrian and bike traffic. Exceptions must be made for the (temporarily or permanently) handicapped and the very elderly, who should be provided with free loaner electric minicars
  2. Enforce the law: ticket both bikes and cars conscientiously for unsafe driving and riding; ticket seriously for auto offences that endanger bikes
  3. Train the riders: teach effective cycling! teach it early, teach it consistently: teach young cyclists their rights and responsibilities under vehicle code
  4. Bicycle Ed: should be offered in high school like (instead of) Driver's Ed
  5. Publish the facts: every city newspaper to publish accurate monthly statistics of traffic injuries and fatalities
  6. Fix the streets: bikes often do illegal things because they are in impossible situations (left turn lanes where the bike doesn't trigger the light change, for example). Remedy the hazards and traps that cause illegal and desperate manoeuvres
  7. Clean the pavement: make a point of removing broken glass, fixing potholes, and smoothing surface so that bikes don't have to choose between swerving to avoid these dangers, or barrelling into them
  8. End oil welfare: remove artificial taxpayer subsidies for the petroleum industry and let gasoline find its natural market price
  9. End highway welfare: force auto-related highway construction and maintenance to pay for itself out of gas and vehicle taxes, not property tax
  10. End parking welfare: no free parking anywhere, don't allow merchants to bribe their customers to drive by wasting precious downtown real estate on parking wastelands
  11. Re-educate police: they usually assume that all bike/car accidents are the cyclist's fault, especially if the cyclist is dead and unable to argue about it
  12. Police on bikes: put a large percentage of regular cops on bikes; this will bring them closer to the public, closer to cyclist safety issues, and save a lot in gas and police cars :-)
  13. Identify the problem: use motor vehicle taxes to remedy the damage and harm done by motor vehicles (i.e. to pay for the bike safety programs above)
  14. Not just sport: stop focussing exclusively on pleasure riding trails that go nowhere useful, and put real money into making the real streets safe for real people trying to run real errands and commute to real jobs.
  15. Sumptuary law: minor ticket/fee for anyone carrying bikes on top of a SUV :-)
  16. Helmets for drivers: their injury statistics justify head protection far more than ours, and the nuisance of helmets would help get people out of their cars -- just as it discourages people from cycling
  17. If you have more suggestions for this list, drop me a line.