Today’s New York Times Bay Area Blog ponders the question of urban biking safety. Bike related fatalities are down 31 percent since 1975, even as bicycle ridership has increased over that same time. Writing for the NYTimes, Michelle Quinn notes that a significant 92 percent of fatalities were for cyclists who were not wearing helmets. Alcohol was a factor in 28 percent of deaths of riders over the age of 16.
My observations match those of Jackson West, whom Quinn quotes in her article. Jackson believes the decrease in fatalities may be due to greater sensitivity and awareness on the part of drivers of cars. I’ve encountered several courteous drivers who have shown significant awareness of me and my bike as I’ve ridden around Oakland. Let’s hope this trend continues. The improving bike lane situation is notable, too.
If your goal is to arrive alive and travel by bike, wear a helmet. It may mess up your hair, but it could save your life. And if drinking is your thing, do it after you arrive, not before you ride.