The Helmet Alarmist Who Cried Wolf

Vote No on HB 176 Kentucky

Systemic Failure

In December 2012, Dr. Fred Rivara gave an alarming TED Talk about the spread of bikeshare programs across the nation. This was a big problem, he argued, because bikeshare riders generally do not wear helmets. He predicted mass carnage as a result, and published a paper that purported to show a 14% increased risk of head injuries as a result of bikeshare.

But when the data in the paper was examined, it was clear that bikeshare had the opposite effect. Cities with bikeshare programs saw a substantial reduction in head injuries.

It is not the first time Dr. Rivara has cried wolf.

Beginning in 1989, he published a series of papers claiming that bike helmets reduce the risk of head injury by a whopping 85%. He is the original bike helmet alarmist. And while his papers were heavily criticized for their methods and conclusions, that did not prevent legislators from passing…

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The Safety Myth…

The Lazy Rando Blog...

Let me start with these three statements:

  1. Safety doesn’t exist. It’s an abstract concept that’s incorrectly utilized by cyclists to justify fear based reactions to the world around them.
  2. Fear is a reactionary emotional state that results in impulsive decisions that are not arrived at using rationale thought processes.
  3. The number one threat to cycling in North America is fear – nothing else comes close to doing the same damage.

Safety, as the term is used colloquially, is trying to express the lack of a significant negative outcome. So you rode your bicycle home from a friend’s place and you might text them when you get home..”Made it back safely.” As social shorthand for “I didn’t have an incident on the way home” I have no problem with word “safety”.

Where “safety” has started to hurt cyclists is when people disconnect the term from its meaning “lack of significant negative…

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Action Alert: Tyler Pelletier (Canada)

Tyler has been trying to get something, anything done for over 3 years.

Let’s lend him a hand.

Update: These emails work.
easton at bruce.timms at rick.dykstra at petar.vujic at, mark.slade at, jackie.gervais at, phil.bergen at

Action Alert:

Please take a moment to write a letter to
Associate Director (A), Public Works Strategic Projects Public Works Department Niagara Region
2201 St. David’s Rd. West, P.O. Box 1042, Thorold, Ont., L2V 4T7 Phone: 905-685-4225 ext. 3400 Toll-free: 1-800-263-7215

This region has an email client through their website. Which can be really confusing for someone to try and figure out which selection is the correct selection to send an email to.

Here is how I solved that.

Go to it is the blue hyperlink above. At the top of the page click on contact us. It is on the very top in the black header bar.

In the subject drop down menu select “Development Services”. Fill in the information and write your letter. Send it.

I have sent her an email and if everyone can take a moment to ask her to support Tyler Pelletier in creating a safer cycle route and community. I also mentioned that cycling groups like to drop a lot of money when they come through as tourists and that any money spent on improvements should be viewed as an investment in their regions future prosperity.

This is what he has to cycle through.

10936835_10155037148310462_518220404_oHe is concerned about lighting issues along this corridor. 

Tyler knows that the safest position is fully in the lane. This however sets him up for motorist harassment and he would like cycle tracks installed. It’s what he wants.

10937320_10155037148480462_1149108695_n Taking the lane is the only viable position here. Not everyone wants to do this. I understand that and since his community spends thousands of dollars on making driver better. They should also invest a few thousand to make cycling better. 10750152_10155037122930462_674377142534715630_o

How do you get people to want to cycle? How do you get comfort loving people to want to….?

I love a good military story.

I grew up with a stepfather whose father was in the military. My stepfather couldn’t join the military and I’m pretty sure he never wanted to any way, but he loved a good military story. I was a little girl in Oldham County Kentucky when I first watched “The Big Red One” I remember participating in a charades project to help us with our spelling. I selected “The Big Red One.” as my topic. I drew a dash on the chalkboard for each letter and then pantomimed “Big” “Red” “One”. Nobody got it.

I was shocked. How do you not get military movie titles? I was even wearing something red to help out with that word. To me it was clear as day, but the kids in the class kept picking titles they were familiar with. They stuck to the things they knew. The stories they had been sold through the local news and popular media. They only knew what others wanted them to know. So those were the titles they were guessing. Their choices didn’t make sense and totally didn’t fit.

What does that have to do with cycling? What does it have to do with getting people to want to cycle?

Let’s play a game. Below is one way to encourage more people to get out and try a bike. Can you guess the title?

__ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __ __.

Here’s a hint.

The above title will protect cyclists.

Are you thinking….


If you were thinking “Bike Lanes” then you have the same thinking pattern as my classmates from years ago.

“Laws Protect” is the title.

This brings me to my all time favorite movie. “The Hunt for Red October”. I own it and watch it whenever I’m feeling down.

Here you have a guy who is trying to convince Politicians and Military personnel that this Russian is wanting to defect. Ryan asks himself “How do you get people to want to leave a submarine?” “How do you get people to want to get off a Nuclear submarine?” and then the lightbulb goes off in Ryans head. Ryan now knows how the Russian is going to get his men to willingly evacuate the submarine. Ryan is excited and he is met with some derision from the Commanding Officer as he explains the plan to the Captain.

It made sense to Ryan. He thought it through and based on the factual information he had obtained, Ryan came to a reasonable conclusion. It just wasn’t so easy to get everyone else on board.

A lot of people are pushing for the infrastructure. The laws are lagging behind.

A cyclist was struck and killed in a bike lane.

A cyclist was struck and injured in a bike lane.

No charges filed.

In most states cyclists are legally mandated to use unsafe facilities.

When they use those facilities they should be protected. Not just by the facilities but also by law.

We need laws protecting road users. Everyone is vulnerable to careless and aggressive drivers.

Lets stop fixating on bike lanes and start thinking outside the box. With the history of injuries and deaths associated with bike lanes and even separate bicycle paths we need to do more. People need to feel safe. They need to be comfortable.

People understand liability and sadly the majority of people are not altruistic. They are lazy and basic in their needs and wants. If you make a law which holds a motorist liable for injuring a cyclist, if you create anti-harassment task forces and laws, if you enforce the existing laws you will have more people feeling safe and confident. If motorists get tickets for harassing cyclists, if motorists get taken to court and forced to stand before a judge and account for their behavior, you are going to have the best advertiser for cycling that you could ever possibly have. It would go something like this.

Motorist: Man I just got out of court.

Motorists friend: What did you go to court for?

Motorist: Oh some damn cyclist was in the road and I passed him in the lane. Honked my horn at him too.

Motorist friend: How did you end up in court over that?

Motorist: Well this officer saw me and pulled me over. Told me that is illegal and I got a ticket for improper lane usage and unnecessary use of the horn.

Motorist friend: Those are laws?

Motorist: Yea.

Later that day.

Motorist friend is out driving and sees a cyclist in the road. He adjusts his speed for traffic conditions, changes lanes when safe, and passes the cyclist. Cyclists gives a wave and the Motorist friend waves back.

The passenger in the motorists friends car turns to him and says “Those damn cyclists, I’d have buzzed him and honked the horn”. Motorists friend “Yea, but it isn’t worth getting a ticket.” Passenger “You can get a ticket for that?” Motorists friend “Yea, it happened to my friend and he just got out of court today, pretty hefty fine.” Passenger “Good to know. I’ll just pass them like you did. Nothing is worth a ticket like that.”

The cyclist is left feeling good about the people operating their vehicles around him. He gets to his destination and tells his friends who drove all about the great ride he had and how courteous the other road users were. His friends find his exuberance catching and before you know it they are at the bike shop and wheeling around on their own bikes. The cyclists feel good about the people operating on the road around them and they have the assurance that should something happen, law enforcement will take him seriously and protect his rights equally under the law.
And there we have a cycle of courtesy that goes beyond any infrastructure or expensive educational Public Service Announcement.

The message should be loud and clear. “If you endanger vulnerable road users you will pay a hefty fine and possibly lose your driving privileges.”

Driving behavior is based on laws and if those laws are enforced drivers will behave.

Let’s imagine another scenario.

Person A is watching the evening news.

News reporter: This just in, a new anti-harassment law has been passed. State lawmakers have unanimously passed a law making it a crime to shout, buzz, role coal, throw objects, or generally harass other road users. New penalties have been added to vehicles which fail to change lanes to pass. Our own Reporter in the Field has more on this ground breaking new law.

Reporter in the field: A new law passed today making it a first class offense to treat other road users in an aggresive manner. Most motorists will try to squeeze past a cyclist in the lane. This new law clarifies the already existing passing laws which make it a ticketable offense to pass another road user in the lane. If a cyclist is shouted at, unnecessarily honked at, or an object thrown at them the cyclist only need to take the license plate number and present a report to the police. Form number A-99 is the form to request. An officer will investigate the claims and if any evidence is found that harassing behavior occurred it is a $100.00 fine or the offender, in an interesting twist, can take a cycling safety course and have the fine waived. The intention of the law is to create a safer and more civil environment for all road users and to create passing laws that the police can actually enforce. It is hard to tell what three feet looks like but everyone knows how to change lanes to pass and if an officer sees you pass with out all four tires in the adjacent lane, it means a ticket for you.

The next day person A is out driving and sees a cyclist. Person A remembers the news report from last night and adjusts his speed to traffic conditions and changes lanes when safe to do so and passes the cyclist. A life was saved because more people understood what it means to change lanes to pass.

Laws protect cyclists.

Bike lanes are just there. Like any road it is only as dangerous as the people who use it and the laws which govern them.

Trying to get people to understand this novel idea, Well, It’s hard. Really hard. The bicycle advocates throw you the cold shoulder when you try to explain it to them.
Providing cyclists with peace of mind shouldn’t be hard to understand.

Start advocating for laws which protect cyclists. Advocate for those laws as hard as you advocate for paint on the streets. Your cycling numbers will boom before you know it.

As the opening sequence goes in “The Hunt for Red October”.

Commanding Officer: “It’s cold out Captain”

Captain: Холодная и трудно (Russian) Cold and hard.

If you have ever been on the receiving end of harassment or know someone who has, then please share this with the people you know.

How far did you get buddy!

Someone posed the question: “When controlling the lane, how do you handle the motorist or passenger that yells, points or beeps and says get out of the road? Yell back, shake your head, wave, wave w/one finger, try to educate them or something else? Thanks!”

Here is my response.

My daughter who typically blows kisses and hollers love ya!, got caught up in a motorists obvious rage a few days before christmas.
We were coming out of Oxmoor mall and heading to St. Mathews mall. We determined that the middle left turn lane was our best option to avoid merging traffic trying to get on and off the interstate.
A motorist flipped his lid that we were in the left turn lane and started honking outrageously. At first I ignored him as he was pretty far behind us and I thought he was honking at traffic in general. The old man driving the minivan managed to get up to the left of us and started the aggressive honking again. My daughter and I had been feeling pretty stoked up to that point. After everything we have been through a chance to decompress over the holidays was really rewarding and this turd broke the mood.
My daughter became very agitated as we advanced and passed the driver and then as the flow of traffic goes, we caught up to him and passed him.
Here is where it gets funny.
At the time it wasn’t funny.
So my daughter gets really angry at this guy who shat all over our peace and in an italian gesture puts her hand up and says “how far did you get buddy!” She is looking at him the whole time and I scream at her to look out. She caught herself in time to avoid serious injury but still managed to rear end the car in front of her.
At first we were both kind of shaken. No one was hurt and there wasn’t any damage. The driver looked in the rear view mirror and I waved. They shrugged and went on.
Now we laugh about it and when someone honks or is rude to us, we look at each other, smile, and say “How far did you get buddy!”
My personal opinion is do what you want. In that moment at that time your response is yours and I would never judge you are criticise you for acting the way you chose.
My only advice is to not let them rile you up to the point that you lose control of your own safety.

I would like to add.

Some people operate under the illusion that we can control the behavior of those around us. The reality is that we can only control our own behavior.

There isn’t any shame in losing your temper and the adage that “Civility is free” holds true. To each his own. Sometimes I smile and wave, sometimes I holler fuck you. It just depends on the situation, my mood, and if I feel my life was in peril by their actions.

Mostly I would just like to see this bad human behavior of judging other peoples reactions to potentially life altering situations come to an end.

How far did you get buddy!

My daughter.
My daughter.

She sits thoughtfully at a charity event. She had at this point won 3 frozen turkeys. Seeing a family that had not won anything she gave them one of the birds and gave the other one to another family.