Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Why take a risk with that part of the anatomy?"

Graphic from a 2005 NY Times story

Another story in the NY Times about the hazards of the traditional bicycle seat, an issue I posted about way back in 2005. Strange that cyclists resist accepting and adapting to this information. Interesting too that SF Streetsblog didn't post a link to the story yesterday in its Today's Headlines feature, which meticulously takes note of every injury accident involving cyclists. Maybe they thought the story would be too disturbing for their readers:

I’ve spent much of my journalistic career debunking health scares, but the bike-saddle menace struck me as a no-brainer when I first heard about it. Why, if you had an easy alternative, would you take any risk with that part of the anatomy? Even if you didn’t feel any symptoms, even if you didn’t believe the researchers’ warnings, even if you thought it was perfectly healthy to feel numb during a ride — why not switch just for comfort’s sake? Why go on crushing your crotch?

When I tried a no-nose model for my 16-mile daily commute, it was so much more comfortable that I promptly threw away the old saddle. But over the years I’ve had zero success persuading any other cyclists to switch, even when I quote the painfully succinct warning from Steven Schrader, the reproductive physiologist at Niosh who did the experiment with police officers. “There’s as much penis inside the body as outside,” Dr. Schrader told me. “When you sit on a regular bike saddle, you’re sitting on your penis.”

More precisely, according to Dr. Schrader’s measurements, you are putting 25 to 40 percent of your body’s weight on the nerves and blood vessels near the surface of the perineum. “That part of the body was never meant to bear pressure,” Dr. Schrader said. “Within a few minutes the blood oxygen levels go down by 80 percent.”