City Biking is Dangerous

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Remember kids: Always wear your helmet.

Public safety message here, partly inspired by some comments to my earlier post that mentioned the dangers of fixed-gear bikes. Now, I love riding my bicycle in San Francisco, and I wouldn’t hesitate to describe this city as a bicycle paradise. And I’ve been known to fill my water bottle with a refreshing rosé like the Gris de Gris from Domaine de Fontsainte for adventure rides around town. But damn kids, those are some dangerous streets out there! Between the rising number of bicycle fatalities in San Francisco and the unfortunate accident over the weekend where a deputy sheriff struck and killed two cyclists south of San Francisco, I’m tempted not to ride for a while. Or join in Critical Mass as a protest. Either way, I’m wearing my helmet. And probably not bringing along the rosé.

* Update: Erwin Dink at Winefoolery posted this appropriate video about bicycle awareness in London in the comments section.

One Less Car vs. One Less Bike

Bicycle hipsters in cities like San Francisco often sport “One Less Car” stickers on their rides (and I fully agree with that sentiment). More recently–and perhaps as a response to Critical Mass from disgruntled drivers–there’s been a wave of cars displaying “One Less Bike” stickers. Clever.

But my new favorite has to be the one pictured below, sent to me by my friend Rob (via SFist).

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Fixed gear, or track-racing bikes, first became hot among bike messengers in major cities. They are notable for their lack of breaks, single gear and lack of a free spinning rear wheel; ie, pedal forward you go forward, pedal in reverse and the bike goes backwards. They’ve since spread to the wider hipster set, although common variations include single-speed non-fixed gear bicycles. Wannabee fixies, to put it bluntly. These often feature breaks and quite possibly a rider wearing tight jeans and a studded belt, or worse, a huge chain used to lock up the bike (popular in New York, although just plain stupid: fall on this and you risk shattering your hip).

I can understand the appeal of both bikes on one level, but in many places (like hilly San Francisco!) they don’t make much sense. Skid stops can be dangerous for obvious reasons, and those knees will only last so long, kids!

(Here’s a good article from the New York Times about fixed gear bikes and the culture that’s formed around them)

I’ll stick to my Bianchi Imola, thanks.

(NB: Post is sort of updated here)