City Paper is not for tourists
Some action in the comments section of David Montgomery‘s Saturday Post story about bicycle commuting. I thought the piece was fine, even if it’s not the freshest idea out there. A lot of commenters are freaked about the lede (not about its florid style, mind you):
This is the summer of women on bicycles riding around town free as anything, wearing long dresses or skirts, sandals or even high heels, hair flowing helmet-free, pedaling not-too-hard and sitting upright on their old-school bikes, the kind with front baskets where they put their laptops, and handlebars that curve gently back in a bow shaped like the upper line of someone’s perfectly drawn red lipstick.
Specifically, the trouble is with the the “hair flowing helmet-free” part. I find the helmet vs. non-helmet debate dreary; people who pish-posh helmet use offer us a rare opportunity to test the theory of evolution at every sticky intersection.
The reason I hate this debate is that it turns a necessary conversation—-should people in cities get around more by bike, and if so, how—-into a mere safety question.
Plus, c’mon, it doesn’t take many trips through town to expose how flimsy the anti-helmet position is. A straight shot up 17th Street NW is rife with terror, from car doors opening (surprise!) to trucks in the bike lanes, to people who SCARE THE BEJESUS OUT OF YOU BY HONKING FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. And then there’s the vehicles that don’t see you before they back up (two times last month), the pedestrians who cross at you daring you not to swerve (though maybe that’s just my neighborhood), the pitted streets that threaten to turn you into a human cannonball…
But hey, argue about that all you like. We don’t have bike boxes, or car-free-streets days, or any number of good ideas for integrating cycling into daily life, but people droning on about helmets or cyclists running stop signs? Always available.
Photo by Flickr user kendra e