Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Indoctrinating children: Cycling as a "lifestyle"

In the comments this blog gets from cyclists, many claim that riding a bike is not in fact a dangerous way to get around the city. 

When you look at the numbers (American Association of Neurological Surgeons, below in italics), you can see that claim is untrue: 500,000 annual "bicycle-related" injuries overall in the US requiring visits to emergency rooms, including more than 65,000 head injuries, with 600 fatalities from those injuries. 

Cycling easily leads the list of all recreational activities that result in brain injury for both adults and children under 14 years old.

The latter fact makes it particularly irresponsible for the city to encourage cycling among children, which the Bicycle Plan does:

Bicycling and walking are the only independent transportation modes available to children. Bicycling allows children to explore their neighborhood, get exercise, and gain a valuable skill that is useful for a lifetime. Before the age of nine, most children do not have the maturity and developmental skills required to ride a bicycle in urban traffic situations...

In addition to technical skill and traffic laws, bicycle-safety education for children should promote bicycling as an enjoyable transportation method with positive lifestyle, health, and environmental benefits. Programs and practices that will make bicycling to school easier and safer, such as the Safe Routes to Schools Program, should also be promoted (page 5.7 and page 5.8, Framework Document, SF Bicycle Plan).

Once our kids are nine years old the city thinks they are ready to cruise city streets on their bikes along with trucks, Muni buses, and SUVs!

It evidently isn't stupid enough for city government to redesign our streets on behalf of this small minority with the dangerous hobby; it also wants to risk the lives of the city's children by encouraging them to ride bikes on city streets!

This gross irresponsibility is included in the volume of the Bicycle Plan the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to make part of the city's General Plan.

Cycling: Every year, more than 500,000 people visit emergency rooms in the United States with bicycle-related injuries. Of those, more than 65,000 were head injuries in 2006. There are about 600 deaths a year, with two-thirds being attributed to TBI[traumatic brain injury]. It is estimated that up to 85 percent of head injuries can be prevented through proper usage of SNELL, ANSI or ASTM-approved helmets. It is essential that the helmet fit properly so that it doesn’t fall off during a fall...
The top 10 head injury categories among children ages 14 and younger:

Cycling: 34,359
Football: 14,626
Baseball and Softball: 11,835
Basketball: 11,682
Skateboards/Scooters: 10,538
Water Sports: 7,836
Powered Recreational Vehicles: 7,652
Soccer: 6,494
Trampolines: 6,007
Winter Sports: 4,874

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