13 December 2008

Dutch Treat

Val - The Cargo Bike King - found this cracking website from Holland. Will o' the Wisp is written by four Dutch mothers who are quite found of their country and lifestyle, as well they should be.

It's an all-round website and includes an Introduction to Dutch Bicycle Culture.

"Bicycle weight conscious we Dutch are not, in fact it is a matter of considerable amusement to us to see how the English-speaking world goes to great lengths to strip bikes by leaving off chain and mud guards. If you really want to make a difference to the weight of your bicycle, don't eat another hamburger or crispy cream donut!"

They are equally sharp when it comes to helmets:
"Three types of people wear helmets on bikes in Holland. The English, The Americans, The Mentally Inflicted.

The English and Americans wear helmets because in their worlds common sense no longer rules and people must be safe from their own actions at all times. Also, it is a well known fact that when Americans fall off their bikes they fall on their heads. Why this should be we do not know...

Will o' the Wisp has a blog, too. Listed under the categories Motherhood, Religion, Politics there is the post entitled Why Beer is Better Than Religion:
1. No one will kill you for not drinking beer.
2. Beer doesn’t tell you how to have sex.
3. Beer has never caused a major war.
4. They don’t force beer on minors who can’t think for themselves.
5. When you have beer, you don’t knock on people’s doors trying to give it away.
6. Nobody’s ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured to death over his brand of beer.
7. You don’t have to wait 2,000 years for a second beer.
8. There are laws saying that beer labels can’t lie to you.
9. You can prove you have a beer.
10. If you have devoted your life to beer, there are groups to help you stop.
Important Issues Facing Copenhageners
There are more pearls of wisdom to be had on the site and the blog. The Living Well category is cool, as is Women's Health.


sarah said...

I love your blog, don't get me wrong, but I'm unsure as to why you are so vehemently against helmets. The fact of the matter is, people do fall and hit their heads. I know people who have. And I would far rather look a little silly on my bicycle, than to live the rest of my life with a traumatic brain injury because I didn't have a helmet on. You are lucky that you live where you do and that the people around you are conscious of the fact that there are bicyclists all around them. Here, it is the bicyclists that have to be conscious of what is around them. Because the cars aren't looking for you. So, I wear a helmet, because I like my head. I don't know what the big deal is.

Mikael said...

I don't usually get too much into helmets on this blog, mostly over at Copenhagenize.

The fact of the matter is that helmets aren't even designed to protect your head against this brain injury you mention.

And nowhere on this planet has helmet usage reduced the number of head injuries. Nowhere. Which means, quite simply, that helmets don't work.

Promoting helmets and helmet legislation reduces the number of cyclists with 20-40%.

I like science. I like logic. I am vehemently against - not helmets - but The Culture of Fear and people who promote helmets without any reliable science to back them up.

With all that said, I don't and won't get into helmets that much here on CCC. Although once in awhile, when the occasion arises, I will.

Mikael said...

Addendum: You have a far greater risk of drowning than being seriously injured or killed on a bicycle. Do you wear a lifevest at the swimming pool or at the beach?

Anonymous said...

When an American auto passes a cyclist on the road, the cyclist is treated like a stray animal. Either the driver gets scared and dangerously swerves, or the driver dose not pay attention, and a will come inches from your handlebars at 45+ mph. Helmets are a way of life because cyclists fear cars, and cars fear cyclists. And cars always win. Plus, American Autos are HUGE.

Mikael said...

Fear is fear.
Fear isn't fact.

Trina said...

and also, if that car hits me the helmet is not going to help at all. :) Helmust are actually more a psychological thing than a working safety measure.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend go down on a bike and hit his head on the road. Were it not for his helmet, I wouldn't be sure if he were still alive today. I was going downhill when I bumped a dog. Fell down and hit the road with my head too. Since that time, I always wear a helmet. I live in a hilly place, with lots of traffic and narrow roads. Very few cyclists.

Mikael said...

the problem with "a helmet saved my/his/her life" stories is that you can't prove it. it's just a 'belief', not knowledge.

given the science, it's very unlikely. in fact there is an article about this emotional blackmail on cyclehelmets.org.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mikael,

I'm iffy about helmets as well but in the interest of intellectual honesty and logic I would also say that the statement "a helmet didn't save X life" is a statement of belief as well. The link has excellent information (thank you for that) but makes some statements such as "Thus the increase in helmet wearing as a result of the law did not reduce fatalities relative to cycle use and may have led to an increase." I don't understand what use this is without documentation to demonstrate what may have caused an increase in fatalities. Admittedly Physics is not my strength but I would like to see a clear demonstration of bicycle helmets effecting "angular or rotational acceleration" and acting as an agent of injury. Finally, one of the studies does explicitly state in the abstract that "The conclusions are that the meta-analysis does not provide scientific evidence that such helmets reduce serious injury to the brain," good news for me but I didn't read that wearing a helmet causes injury or wont prevent an injury. I have to keep my inductive reasoning in check so I always question everything that seems to make sense to me. Thankfully there are no helmet laws in my parts. Cheers and thanks for a fantastic website and a fantastic link!

B-Bike-G said...

I love this whole discussion. I'm a (bad) racer, and 99% of the time wear a helmet when "training", mostly because when I am on a bike, trying to ride fast and aggresively, I am concentrating on riding fast and aggresively and not (neccesarily) on safety. But when I am riding around the corner to the grocery, I think a helmet is not neccesary and do not wear one. I too deride the state-of-fear we as americans are asked to live in every day. To quote, "I don't want to die without any scars." - Tyler Durden

melancholic optimist said...

I agree that a helmet makes more sense to me for use in sport cycling - racing or mountain biking or whatever. The style of bike you ride makes a difference too, as well as your style of riding. I would say, riding a bike that has you sitting upright, riding casually (not 30mph), and riding responsibly (in an urban setting) all greatly (almost entirely) reduce the chances of you needing anything to protect your head, short of something like a motorcycle helmet in a car collision. Agreed, there is really no proof to show that a helmet wouldn't have protected someone's head in X case, but based on their construction and most circumstances, we can say it's less likely it would have than not.

But really, I think the biggest issue with helmets for me is that I see so many people using them as a false security blanket. Here in Portland I see so many people who wear their helmets religiously, but ride at night with no lights or reflectors, don't use hand signals, don't stop at stop signs, etc... and it causes me to believe that they believe they are "safe" as long as they have a helmet on, and that they would be afraid of cycling without it. Even the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (a bicycle advocacy group in Portland) has said that lights are far more important than a helmet, because they actually do something to *prevent* a collision with a car, which is by far your worst case scenario. So really it's not helmets themselves, but the false security of wearing one (and then feeling like you can ride irresponsibly) and or the feeling propagated by media and such here that you are certain to suffer a life-threatening injury if you don't wear one, thus causing people to feel that cycling is inherently and imminently life threatening no matter how you ride.

Mikael said...

well said.

Judith said...

Just to let you know that you might need to update some links for the Willothewisp.org site as we are migrating to a content management system in order to cope with increasing traffic and new content waiting to be added.The link for Bicycle Culture is now http://willothewisp.org/?page_id=18 . The wowblog has had a facelift but it's internal links remain the same. Kind Regards, Judith vd R

Mikael said...

thanks, judith... updated!