Friday, October 07, 2011

Children, bikes, and traumatic brain injury


An article in today's New York Times tells us once again about the dangers for children on bikes, traumatic brain injury in particular. The bike people in SF ignore me as much as possible, but, based on the number of comments it got, my most annoying blog post for them was Children and the bike cult from last year, which questioned the wisdom of encouraging children to ride bikes. What I find shocking is using children as accessory to what is essentially a political ideology based on an inherently dangerous activity.

The Times article is based on a Centers for Disease Control study that reminds parents how dangerous riding a bike can be for their children:

Overall, the activities associated with the greatest estimated number of Traumatic Brain Injury-related ED visits were bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer. From 2001 to 2009, the estimated number of sports and recreation-related TBI visits to emergency departments (EDs) increased from 153,375 to 248,418, and the estimated rate of TBI visits increased from 190 per 100,000 population to 298. The two most common sports and recreation activities associated with ED treatment for TBI were bicycling and playing football.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons says that cycling is the cause of most serious head injuries to children.

Bike messenger and author Robert Hurst thinks encouraging children to ride bikes on city streets is a bad idea:

While [John]Forester claimed that even children could ride safely on busy streets using the vehicular-cycling principle, our way is unquestionably for adults…The streets demand from us an awareness and maturity that would be very rare in a child. The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America, (page 66), by Robert Hurst.

The Bicycle Coalition of course has a different view with its Bike to School Day, which is endorsed by City Hall. San Francisco also has an organization dedicated to getting more children on bikes.

Labels: