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.

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At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

190 per 100,000

That is lower than the accident rate at Fell/Masonic, which you claim is not dangerous....

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's dangerous when cyclists and motorists rush to beat the traffic light. But the number of injury accidents at that intersection has been consistent for years. The city and the Bicycle Coalition's campaign to whip up hysteria about that intersection was based on a lie, as the city's own study shows.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Funny, but Streetsblog didn't list that NY Times story in its "Today's Headlines" feature.

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bryan Goebel left Streetsblog. Maybe you should apply to be his replacement.

At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob -
All people I have known injured on their cycles have been injured - or killed - by cars. Why the blame on the victims? It seems to me that vehicles are very dangerous and should be treated that way.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

In fact around half of all injury accidents to cyclists are caused by cyclists themselves. On average 1.8 people a year die riding a bike in SF.

This post isn't about blaming anybody, except maybe the avid cyclists who indoctrinate their children in cycling as a way of life. A simple fall off a bike without a helmet can cause serious brain injury to a child, so why expose them to that danger?

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Tetsuo said...

waaaaaaaa!! Rob's mommy didn't buy him a bike when he was a kid .. waaaaaaahhhhh!!!!

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

And your Mommy an Daddy told you that every turd you produced was a thing of beauty, which is why you're too much of a twit to put your name on your lame insults.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

I agree. Kids should remain indoors, or in cars, which are the leading cause of death for kids.

Safe and sound.

At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear god, why do I keep seeing time and time again, some young mom on a bike on Valencia St, with a little one riding in the back seat and she blows thru a stop sign??

Please, please, stop fucking doing that!! One day, dear mom, it's gonna not work in your favor and you and your little one are gonna get hit.

Please tell me it wont happen.

At 3:29 AM, Blogger susan Rose said...

Informative post, I agreed with @Rob Anderson: Many peoples are injured accidents by bikes and having traumatic brain injury. Dr. Ron Federici best doctor for traumatic brain injury.


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