Industrialized Cyclist Notepad

Capitol Hill bike share in Seattle will have helmet dispensers

People point to hills and weather as the biggest challenges facing bike share in Seattle. Wrong, it’s this:

In order for Pronto to operate in compliance with helmet laws, each station will also have a “helmet dispensing” device and a return bin. Helmets will be available to rent for $2, will be sanitized after each use, and cycled out after a certain number of uses. Expect to see more people walking around with their own bike helmets to beat the $2 fee.

via Capitol Hill bike notes | Big day for bike share, Broadway bikeway extension, Greenway meetings | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle.


The God that failed

Pinka Chatterji and Sara Markowitz, “Effects of Bicycle Helmet Laws on Children’s Injuries.” NBER Working Paper No. 18773. February 2013. JEL No. I0,K0

Cycling is popular among children, but results in thousands of injuries annually. In recent years, many states and localities have enacted bicycle helmet laws. We examine direct and indirect effects of these laws on injuries. Using hospital-level panel data and triple difference models, we find helmet laws are associated with reductions in bicycle-related head injuries among children. However, laws also are associated with decreases in non-head cycling injuries, as well as increases in head injuries from other wheeled sports. Thus, the observed reduction in bicycle-related head injuries may be due to reductions in bicycle riding induced by the laws.

Pinka Chatterji
State University of New York at Albany Economics Department

Sara Markowitz
Department of Economics Emory University

The auto industry loves mandatory helmet laws.

The invisible bike helmet

… Designed to inflate like an airbag in the event of a collision.

By Hovding.

Here’s how it works: Sensors in the collar detect unusual movements by the wearer. Upon impact, the sensors trigger a gas inflator that pumps air into an airbag that’s folded into the collar, which fully inflates around the head it in 0.1 seconds. Hövding, which is available in Europe for SEK3,998 (about $595), weighs about 1 1/2 lbs. and uses a rechargeable battery. It must be turned on. About one hour before the battery runs out, it makes a “battery low” sound.


I see a little problem with this. “Unusual head movements…” There is a fair bit of head movement in normal non-crashy cycling, so the Device would have to be calibrated to ignore all that. In the event of a solo wreck during which the front wheel is suddenly removed from beneath the rider (a relatively common path to head injury for bicyclists), for example, when a rider totally wipes out on black ice or a wet streetcar rail, the first sign of “unusual head movement” that would be detected by the Device could very well be that of the head impacting the pavement structure. In other words, too late. And so the rider is injured twice, first by slapping the skull onto the pavement structure, and second by paying six-hundred bucks for an invisible helmet that inflates only after the collision has occurred, thus launching the injured rider’s head off the ground rudely with further negative consequences to his or her neck and overall temperment. However, it may do quite well at detecting sudden accelerations involved with collision with a motor vehicle or fixed object.