I saw Jim Gaffigan in concert last week. He made a series of jokes about how motorcyclists have chosen their preferred cause of death (he also made fun of spandex shorts on cyclists, which I’ll admit was fair).
But his talk about bikers’ inevitable deaths wasn’t half as tragicomic as Phil Gaimon’s soliloquy above. I ride a lot less than Phil, and even I’ve been hit hard enough to come off my bike three times. I’ve had more encounters close enough to feel the heat of the engine than I can count.
In spite of the negativity Phil and I are displaying here, the rate of cycling deaths relative to the number of people cycling is going down:
It’s easy (but lazy) to turn this into a plea for more cyclists to wear helmets. Nope. Don’t get me wrong: I wear a helmet most of the time, and 100% of the time if I’m riding hard. But helmets alone do precious little to save commuting cyclists’ lives:
In fact, up-armoring cyclists to prevent deaths is an extremely questionable practice. Helmet laws kill cycling rates and bikeshare use. And it would be interpreted as absurd to expect walkers or joggers to wear helmets, even though car crashes and falls by elderly walkers collectively account for far more head and neck injuries than cycling:
What saves lives? Critical mass, laws, and protected bike lanes. Let’s get on it.