public-health

Trips for Kids appoints a new national director

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (BRAIN) — Trips for Kids has appointed Robert Alan Ping as its executive director.

Velo-city underway in Nantes this week

NANTES, France (BRAIN) — Some 1,500 delegates from more than 160 countries are gathered in Nantes, France, this week to discuss the future of cycling. More than 200 speakers are set to speak over the next three days at the event, which has been around for more than 30 years and is presented as the world summit on cycling. Velo-city kicked off Tuesday night and continues through Friday

League makes grants to women’s cycling programs

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — The League of Ameican Bicyclists is announcing $3,000 in mini-grants it will make this year to support new and growing programs to engage young women in bicycling, encourage more moms to ride and advance female leadership in the bike movement. The League’s Women Bike Mini-Grant Program is now in its second year. “The Women Bike movement is expanding at a rapid rate with creative initiatives and innovative ideas helping to change the face of bicycling in communities across the country,” said Carolyn Szczepanski, the League’s director of communications and Women Bike.

Cycling while pregnant: tips and advice

Forget the scare-mongering, cycling while pregnant is a matter of common sense, and it has health benefits too.

One thing pregnant women never go short of is advice: cut back on that, don’t do this, stop eating that. Where does cycling fit in? Is it a sensible way to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy, or are there risks for mother and baby? The official line from the NHS is clear cut – cycling is a definite no-no. The NHS website contains a list of sports to avoid, and cycling is included alongside horse riding, downhill skiing and gymnastics. The reason? All these activities have “a risk of falling”. But ‘cycling’ encompasses everything from tootling along a towpath to downhill mountain biking, with varying levels of risk.

No need to stop, but do take it easy

More reasonably, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) offers a less simplistic assessment of cycling in its leaflet ‘Recreational exercise and pregnancy: information for you’. Riding a bike is still listed alongside horse riding, skiing and gymnastics, but instead of a straightforward ‘no’ the RCOG suggests these are exercises to be undertaken with “particular care”.

Keen cyclist and GP Dr Andy Ward thinks this cautious approach is more?sensible than putting your bike in a shed the moment you find out you are expecting. “If a pregnant woman was a confident cyclist prior to getting pregnant,?I would have no problem with her continuing to ride during pregnancy. You are just as likely to fall off as you were before!” he said. “I would make her aware that there?is a potential risk to the pregnancy if she did crash – BMX racing might not be the best idea!”

Long-distance cycle tourer and author Josie Dew chose to continue cycling through her two pregnancies, and agrees with Andy that normal everyday cycling is a reasonable thing for a pregnant woman to do. “I wouldn’t career headlong down a steep rocky hillside off-road, but I think normal cycling is fine – and is actually very beneficial,” she said.

If you’re a regular rider anyway, there’s no reason not to carry on when pregnant: if you’re a regular rider anyway, there’s no reason not to carry on when pregnant

Within moderation, cycling is a good form of exercise during pregnancy. Listen to your body

Benefits of cycling while pregnant

What are the advantages of continuing to ride a bike? “The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advises that maternal benefits appear to be both physical and psychological in nature,” says Andy Ward. “Many common complaints of pregnancy, including fatigue, varicose veins and swelling of extremities, are reduced in women who exercise. Additionally, active women experience less insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression.

“An argument for public health is that women who incorporate exercise into their routine during pregnancy are more likely to continue exercising after birth. These benefits are not exclusive to cycling, but if that is a woman’s preferred method of exercise, then it beats a sedentary lifestyle.”

However, while Andy sees many positives to cycling while pregnant, he concedes it’s not entirely risk-free, of course. “The two main risks of cycling while pregnant are falling off and injuring the foetus, and overheating, which can cause abnormalities in the baby if it occurs in the first trimester. To avoid overheating in the first trimester it is advisable to wear cooler gear, maintain hydration and avoid riding on very hot days.”

One condition that pregnant cyclists may be at increased risk of is pre-eclampsia, characterised by high blood pressure and increased levels of protein in urine. This condition can develop into eclampsia, with life-threatening consequences for the mother and baby. However, the risk remains small and the evidence of increased risk is mixed.

“There was a 2009 Danish study that showed a small increase in severe pre-eclampsia in women who cycled for more than 270 minutes per week during the first trimester of pregnancy,” Andy explains. “The problem with the study is that although severe pre-eclampsia is serious, it is rare (affecting only 0.5 percent of pregnancies), so even if your risk is doubled you still only have a one percent chance of getting it (the increase in risk was actually a bit smaller). A subsequent systematic review published in 2012 suggested that exercise may actually help prevent pre-eclampsia (although it did not give an idea about the optimum amount).”

This illustrates the value of doing your research, something Victoria Hazael, senior communications and media coordinator of cycling charity CTC, took very seriously during her first pregnancy. “I thought about whether to cycle and did some research online. I realised that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there and it depends which website you look at.”

As your pregnancy progresses make sure your bike set-up is still comfortable for you: as your pregnancy progresses make sure your bike set-up is still comfortable for you

If you’re a regular rider anyway, there’s no reason not to carry on when pregnant.?

Consult with your midwife?

When Victoria spoke to a midwife, she was advised that as she already cycled it was sensible to continue if she wished. “I was told that as I cycle everyday anyway and use my bike as transport, it made sense for me to carry on.”

However, not every medical professional Victoria spoke to was as enthusiastic. “You don’t always see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, and I met one who was not supportive at all. She told me I shouldn’t have cycled from work to my appointment, so I explained the research I had done, that I cycled every day, and that I didn’t fit in a lot of other exercise. She backed down!”

Josie Dew found that her midwife was happy for her to continue riding. “When I asked her is it okay to keep cycling, she thought I meant maybe half a mile down the road to the shops. But no, I meant 10, 20 or more miles a day. When she realised I normally did a lot more than that a day, she was surprised but very supportive. But she stressed that I shouldn’t push myself, which I didn’t. I just rode the number of miles that I felt like riding.”

Don’t overdo it

If you do decide to cycle during pregnancy, riding sensibly and not overdoing it makes sense. It’s a time for staying healthy, not starting an ambitious training schedule for a sportive or long charity ride. “Fitness and activity levels will naturally decline through the pregnancy, so setting realistic goals is important,” says Andy Ward.

Victoria Hazael’s GP gave similar advice. “He said to really listen to your body. He talked about not getting out of breath, and not taking on something big or training for a long-distance ride. You need to realise that your energy levels won’t be the same as normal, and think about the oxygen levels in your blood.”

As your pregnancy progresses you may want to adjust your position on the bike to make it more comfortable. “I raised my handlebars so the riding position was more upright,” says Josie Dew. If you usually ride a road bike, you may want to swap to something more comfortable. Victoria Hazael explains, “I rode to work on a mountain bike and later a Brompton folder.”

Towards the end of your pregnancy, you can expect to feel more tired and to find cycling more difficult. “As the pregnancy progresses, cycling does get more tricky, especially when you have a physical bump in the way. But I didn’t feel particularly unstable. If I had felt unsteady I probably would have opted to walk or take the bus into work,” Victoria says.

As for when to stop riding altogether, different cyclists come to different conclusions. While Victoria stopped at eight-and-a-half months, largely because of snowy weather, Josie continued to ride to within days of her due date. “I rode up until just a few hours before both girls were born. In fact, I think it was cycling over a bumpy, badly surfaced road that set me into labour with my first child!”

Andy Ward suggests it’s better not to push yourself. “Not being too ambitious in later pregnancy would be my advice. Ride with someone as much as possible and always carry a mobile phone. Comfort and energy levels are probably the biggest factor.”

In the end, how much you cycle during pregnancy boils down to listening to your body and using common sense.

Cycling while pregnant can be a good form of exercise : cycling while pregnant can be a good form of exercise

As your pregnancy progresses?make sure your bike set-up is?still comfortable for you.?

Cycling in the different trimesters of pregnancy

First trimester?

The first 12 weeks is a crucial time for the foetus to grab a firm hold inside the womb, and this period is the highest risk of miscarriage. Keep cycling but do it gently and only if you feel like it – fatigue and morning sickness, which can last all day and all night, might force you to stop for a while. Listen to your body. Cycling off-road is not recommended – it comes with too many jolts and bumps and to high a chance of being sent over the bar.?

Second trimester

During months three to six the chances of miscarrying fall dramatically. The tiredness and nausea of the first trimester are likely to have eased too, meaning you might have more energy than before. Cycling at this stage will keep you fit and supple which should help you cope with any aches or pains from carrying extra weight. Just remember to remain cautious despite your newfound energy, because a tumble won’t be good for mother or baby.?

Third trimester

From month six to your due date your bump will be big and active. You might get short of breath, especially on the hills, and leaning over the handlebar can be challenging. Dutch style bikes have a position that avoids leaning over on your stomach. Many pregnant women are plagued by haemorrhoids so a wide saddle with a gel seat cover might be required. If you feel unstable with the bump, it’s time to put your bike to one side, but this is a personal choice. Cycling keeps you fit, pliable and gives you stamina for the labour itself.?

Medical advice

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advises that exercise in pregnancy can help reduce varicose veins, tiredness and swelling. Active women tend to experience less insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression. The main risks are related to possible falls and overheating. Be sure to keep hydrated. Stop cycling and seek medical attention if you experience excessive shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, abdominal pains, leakage of amniotic fluid or bleeding.

Note: while the advice published here has come from medical professionals and cycling experts, you should always consult your GP before cycling during pregnancy

This article was originally published in The Essential Guide to Kids Cycling.


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Tips and advice on cycling while pregnant

Forget the scare-mongering, cycling while pregnant is a matter of common sense, and it has health benefits too.

One thing pregnant women never go short of is advice: cut back on that, don’t do this, stop eating that. Where does cycling fit in? Is it a sensible way to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy, or are there risks for mother and baby? The official line from the NHS is clear cut – cycling is a definite no-no. The NHS website contains a list of sports to avoid, and cycling is included alongside horse riding, downhill skiing and gymnastics. The reason? All these activities have “a risk of falling”. But ‘cycling’ encompasses everything from tootling along a towpath to downhill mountain biking, with varying levels of risk.

No need to stop, but do take it easy

More reasonably, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) offers a less simplistic assessment of cycling in its leaflet ‘Recreational exercise and pregnancy: information for you’. Riding a bike is still listed alongside horse riding, skiing and gymnastics, but instead of a straightforward ‘no’ the RCOG suggests these are exercises to be undertaken with “particular care”.

Keen cyclist and GP Dr Andy Ward thinks this cautious approach is more?sensible than putting your bike in a shed the moment you find out you are expecting. “If a pregnant woman was a confident cyclist prior to getting pregnant,?I would have no problem with her continuing to ride during pregnancy. You are just as likely to fall off as you were before!” he said. “I would make her aware that there?is a potential risk to the pregnancy if she did crash – BMX racing might not be the best idea!”

Long-distance cycle tourer and author Josie Dew chose to continue cycling through her two pregnancies, and agrees with Andy that normal everyday cycling is a reasonable thing for a pregnant woman to do. “I wouldn’t career headlong down a steep rocky hillside off-road, but I think normal cycling is fine – and is actually very beneficial,” she said.

If you’re a regular rider anyway, there’s no reason not to carry on when pregnant: if you’re a regular rider anyway, there’s no reason not to carry on when pregnant

Within moderation, cycling is a good form of exercise during pregnancy. Listen to your body

Benefits of cycling while pregnant

What are the advantages of continuing to ride a bike? “The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advises that maternal benefits appear to be both physical and psychological in nature,” says Andy Ward. “Many common complaints of pregnancy, including fatigue, varicose veins and swelling of extremities, are reduced in women who exercise. Additionally, active women experience less insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression.

“An argument for public health is that women who incorporate exercise into their routine during pregnancy are more likely to continue exercising after birth. These benefits are not exclusive to cycling, but if that is a woman’s preferred method of exercise, then it beats a sedentary lifestyle.”

However, while Andy sees many positives to cycling while pregnant, he concedes it’s not entirely risk-free, of course. “The two main risks of cycling while pregnant are falling off and injuring the foetus, and overheating, which can cause abnormalities in the baby if it occurs in the first trimester. To avoid overheating in the first trimester it is advisable to wear cooler gear, maintain hydration and avoid riding on very hot days.”

One condition that pregnant cyclists may be at increased risk of is pre-eclampsia, characterised by high blood pressure and increased levels of protein in urine. This condition can develop into eclampsia, with life-threatening consequences for the mother and baby. However, the risk remains small and the evidence of increased risk is mixed.

“There was a 2009 Danish study that showed a small increase in severe pre-eclampsia in women who cycled for more than 270 minutes per week during the first trimester of pregnancy,” Andy explains. “The problem with the study is that although severe pre-eclampsia is serious, it is rare (affecting only 0.5 percent of pregnancies), so even if your risk is doubled you still only have a one percent chance of getting it (the increase in risk was actually a bit smaller). A subsequent systematic review published in 2012 suggested that exercise may actually help prevent pre-eclampsia (although it did not give an idea about the optimum amount).”

This illustrates the value of doing your research, something Victoria Hazael, senior communications and media coordinator of cycling charity CTC, took very seriously during her first pregnancy. “I thought about whether to cycle and did some research online. I realised that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there and it depends which website you look at.”

As your pregnancy progresses make sure your bike set-up is still comfortable for you: as your pregnancy progresses make sure your bike set-up is still comfortable for you

If you’re a regular rider anyway, there’s no reason not to carry on when pregnant.?

Consult with your midwife?

When Victoria spoke to a midwife, she was advised that as she already cycled it was sensible to continue if she wished. “I was told that as I cycle everyday anyway and use my bike as transport, it made sense for me to carry on.”

However, not every medical professional Victoria spoke to was as enthusiastic. “You don’t always see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, and I met one who was not supportive at all. She told me I shouldn’t have cycled from work to my appointment, so I explained the research I had done, that I cycled every day, and that I didn’t fit in a lot of other exercise. She backed down!”

Josie Dew found that her midwife was happy for her to continue riding. “When I asked her is it okay to keep cycling, she thought I meant maybe half a mile down the road to the shops. But no, I meant 10, 20 or more miles a day. When she realised I normally did a lot more than that a day, she was surprised but very supportive. But she stressed that I shouldn’t push myself, which I didn’t. I just rode the number of miles that I felt like riding.”

Don’t overdo it

If you do decide to cycle during pregnancy, riding sensibly and not overdoing it makes sense. It’s a time for staying healthy, not starting an ambitious training schedule for a sportive or long charity ride. “Fitness and activity levels will naturally decline through the pregnancy, so setting realistic goals is important,” says Andy Ward.

Victoria Hazael’s GP gave similar advice. “He said to really listen to your body. He talked about not getting out of breath, and not taking on something big or training for a long-distance ride. You need to realise that your energy levels won’t be the same as normal, and think about the oxygen levels in your blood.”

As your pregnancy progresses you may want to adjust your position on the bike to make it more comfortable. “I raised my handlebars so the riding position was more upright,” says Josie Dew. If you usually ride a road bike, you may want to swap to something more comfortable. Victoria Hazael explains, “I rode to work on a mountain bike and later a Brompton folder.”

Towards the end of your pregnancy, you can expect to feel more tired and to find cycling more difficult. “As the pregnancy progresses, cycling does get more tricky, especially when you have a physical bump in the way. But I didn’t feel particularly unstable. If I had felt unsteady I probably would have opted to walk or take the bus into work,” Victoria says.

As for when to stop riding altogether, different cyclists come to different conclusions. While Victoria stopped at eight-and-a-half months, largely because of snowy weather, Josie continued to ride to within days of her due date. “I rode up until just a few hours before both girls were born. In fact, I think it was cycling over a bumpy, badly surfaced road that set me into labour with my first child!”

Andy Ward suggests it’s better not to push yourself. “Not being too ambitious in later pregnancy would be my advice. Ride with someone as much as possible and always carry a mobile phone. Comfort and energy levels are probably the biggest factor.”

In the end, how much you cycle during pregnancy boils down to listening to your body and using common sense.

Cycling while pregnant can be a good form of exercise : cycling while pregnant can be a good form of exercise

As your pregnancy progresses?make sure your bike set-up is?still comfortable for you.?

Cycling in the different trimesters of pregnancy

First trimester?

The first 12 weeks is a crucial time for the foetus to grab a firm hold inside the womb, and this period is the highest risk of miscarriage. Keep cycling but do it gently and only if you feel like it – fatigue and morning sickness, which can last all day and all night, might force you to stop for a while. Listen to your body. Cycling off-road is not recommended – it comes with too many jolts and bumps and to high a chance of being sent over the bar.?

Second trimester

During months three to six the chances of miscarrying fall dramatically. The tiredness and nausea of the first trimester are likely to have eased too, meaning you might have more energy than before. Cycling at this stage will keep you fit and supple which should help you cope with any aches or pains from carrying extra weight. Just remember to remain cautious despite your newfound energy, because a tumble won’t be good for mother or baby.?

Third trimester

From month six to your due date your bump will be big and active. You might get short of breath, especially on the hills, and leaning over the handlebar can be challenging. Dutch style bikes have a position that avoids leaning over on your stomach. Many pregnant women are plagued by haemorrhoids so a wide saddle with a gel seat cover might be required. If you feel unstable with the bump, it’s time to put your bike to one side, but this is a personal choice. Cycling keeps you fit, pliable and gives you stamina for the labour itself.?

Medical advice

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advises that exercise in pregnancy can help reduce varicose veins, tiredness and swelling. Active women tend to experience less insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression. The main risks are related to possible falls and overheating. Be sure to keep hydrated. Stop cycling and seek medical attention if you experience excessive shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, abdominal pains, leakage of amniotic fluid or bleeding.

Note: while the advice published here has come from medical professionals and cycling experts, you should always consult your GP before cycling during pregnancy

This article was originally published in The Essential Guide to Kids Cycling.


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Bike News Roudup

With the warmer weather, the bikers are out, and with them the bike news.  Here is a roundup of local bike news.

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Harvard gets award for being bike friendly:

As the number of cyclists on Harvard’s campuses continues to grow, so too does the infrastructure to support them.  New bike racks and repair stations are being set up, expanded bicycle benefits for commuters have been rolled out, and the University has made a major investment in the Hubway bike-sharing network by supporting the installation of 12 stations in Boston and Cambridge. The national advocacy organization League of American Bicyclists has recognized that progress by naming Harvard a silver-level Bicycle Friendly University.

Bike advocates push for more use, safety in Newton:

An effort is underway to make cycling a more appealing alternative to driving in Newton.

Advocates and city officials, who see cycling as a way to improve the health of the population and reduce road congestion, are working on plans to better enforce existing laws for sharing the road and to extend bike lanes throughout the city.

Building new infrastructure is key to getting more people to get out of their cars, according to Andreae Downs, chair of the Transportation Advisory Group.

“Unless Newton is the outlier, once you start building bike infrastructure you get more cyclists,” said Downs.

Boston man to cycle from London to Brussels for children’s charity:

THE efforts made by paralympians last summer have inspired a Boston man to take part in a bike ride from London to Brussels.

Paul Maddison was also inspired by his son Nick to take part in the 340-mile cycle challenge for a charity that helps children with disabilities, A Smile for the Child.

Connolly: Let’s Talk About Bike Infrastructure and Safety
The mayoral candidate is calling for a public hearing to discuss the future of city cycling:

As the warm weather slowly begins to creep back to Boston, more bikes will begin popping up along the roadways and paths connecting various city points, which makes it a perfect time to start discussing bike safety once again.

City Councilor and mayoral candidate John Connolly has filed a request to convene a public hearing to talk about Boston’s bike infrastructure and how it can be improved. According to Connolly, the purpose of the hearing will be to devise a long-term strategy for planning, funding, and implementing projects to expand the current cycling infrastructure. In a statement, he said that the city’s budget for bicycle infrastructure is “insufficient to fully implement all essential new projects,” including cycle tracks on Malcolm X Boulevard and around the Boston Public Garden.

How to protect cyclists HSPH team stresses data collection in meeting with city councilors:

How do you make Boston bike-safe? First you find out where it’s unsafe.

Answers to that and other key questions would provide the foundation for effective policy, a team of four Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) students told Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley on Wednesday.

The four — Aaron Pervin, Temitope Olukowi, Claire Albert, and Marie McIntee — were the winners of an annual spring exercise at HSPH in which student teams examine a health policy issue and devise recommendations on how to address it. Professor of Health Policy David Hemenway and doctoral student Dahianna Lopez advised the team.

In their presentation, the students told Pressley that dealing with Boston’s bike-safety problem — made apparent by a string of fatal accidents last year — is especially difficult because information on ridership, common routes, and even accidents is scattered among reports by the Boston Police Department, ambulance teams, emergency rooms, and a variety of city departments.

Justice Breyer Has Shoulder Surgery After Bicycle Accident:

According to Supreme Court spokesperson Kathleen Arberg, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer underwent reverse shoulder replacement surgery for a proximal humerus fracture at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on the morning of April 27th.

The fracture was sustained in his right shoulder after a fall from his bicycle on the afternoon of April 26th, where he was taken to the hospital by an ambulance.

This is the third biking mishap for Justice Breyer. Two years ago, he fractured his right clavicle (collarbone) after he fell near his home in Cambridge, Mass.

MassBike Year End Recap

MassBike has posted its year end recap: They are a great organization, support them if you can.

We had big plans for 2012, and we made them happen, but 2012 turned out to be an even bigger year for MassBike than we had imagined. We led the state in bicyclist advocacy on Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill, celebrated our 35th year of advocacy, supported dozens of bicycle events around the state, and kicked off our Bikeable Communities Program. MassBike has grown from a small group of volunteers in 1977 (then the Boston Area Bicycle Coalition), to a staff of four full-time professionals, four part-time instructors, a half-time intern, and dozens of volunteers. How far we’ve come!

We started 2012 by welcoming our new Membership and Office Coordinator, Austin Rand. He quickly revamped our member benefits and improved our social media and communications. He played a major role in organizing Bike Night: Beyond the Spandex, a gala featuring a bike fashion show, and the Summer Century & Family Fun Ride. Austin continues to develop new events and membership programs to make them even more fun and generate more support for our advocacy work.

Advocates at the National Bike Summit

2012 was a rollercoaster of a year for federal transportation funding and policy. When our Program Manager, Price, and I went to DC in March for the National Bike Summit, no one knew exactly what was going to happen with funding for bicycling. The House had just passed a bill essentially eliminating non-highway spending, and the Senate passed a bill that more or less maintained the status quo. We led Massachusetts advocates visiting our Representatives and our Senators, and our entire delegation was very supportive for our cause, truly “bike-partisan”. In the end, we didn’t get everything we wanted, but most bicycle funding was left intact. And now we’re leading the efforts here in Massachusetts to ensure that this money actually gets spent on biking and walking.

MA Bike/Walk Summit Keynote

Returning home from Washington, we co-hosted the first Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit at the State House on Beacon Hill with WalkBoston. The purpose of the event was to educate our state legislators about three safety-related bills that would benefit bicyclists and pedestrians. It was a very successful first-time event, featuring Streetsblog founder Aaron Naparstek giving the keynote presentation at lunch. Unfortunately, we didn’t get our Vulnerable Road Users Bill passed, but it was the first try for this bill, and we are confident that we have positioned it much better for passage because of the Summit.

Bay State Bike Week Bike Friday

The Summit was a highlight of Bay State Bike Week, the third year that we partnered with MassDOT to celebrate bicycling statewide. There were over 150 events from Cape Cod to the Berkshires, making Massachusetts the only state in the nation to have a truly statewide Bike Week. Thousands of bicyclists across the Commonwealth welcomed the riding season, celebrating bicycling and promoting bicycle safety at rides, breakfasts, screenings, classes, and more. Thanks to MassBike’s partnership with MassDOT, we were able to provide t-shirts, reflective ankle straps, bells and stickers to partner events. We are already in the planning stages for 2013, so stay tuned for details.

Bikeability Assessment in Franklin County
We also established a new partnership with the Department of Public Health through their Mass in Motion Program. Thanks to that partnership, we were able to launch our statewide Bikeable Communities Program, which expands local capacity for improving bicycling through education, technical support, and public engagement. This partnership also allowed us to bring on our fourth staff member, Samantha Markovitz. (PS – this is the most staff MassBike has ever had!) Thanks to this extra support, we have delivered four Bikeable Communities Trainings, undertaken three Bikeability Assessments, provided Bicycle Planning Support in three communities, and supported the establishment of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. We have even more projects lined up for next year, from the Berkshires to Boston and from Cape Ann to Cape Cod!

Instructor Galen Mook in Revere

Our Education Program had its biggest year yet. We delivered bicycle safety education to thousands of children and adults through our Safe Routes to School Program, On-Bike Skills Classes, and Biking for Everyone Workshops. In fact, if you check our calendar right now, we are even holding some end-of-year Winter Bicycling Workshops around the City of Boston to help people stay safe and comfortable on the roads. These classes are made possible with the generous support of the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, which also sponsored our free valet bike parking at Circle The City and other events.

The best part of our work in 2012 is that it has set us up for an even better 2013. We are putting together a bigger, better legislative agenda to build off of the awareness raised at the Bike/Walk Summit; we are already planning the next Bay State Bike Week with MassDOT; we are excited to be a partner organization in Transportation for Massachusetts, a coalition of advocacy groups seeking to increase state support for biking, walking and transit; and we have plans to expand our Bikeable Communities Program. The bottom line, though, is that we couldn’t do any of this work without the support of our members from around the state. It is only through the membership and donations of thousands of bicyclists around the state that we can be your voice to local, state and federal leaders. So I thank you for your support, and promise to continue our success in 2013.

New “No Excuses” Helmet Safety Campaign Misses Its Mark

I have been noticing a new safety campaign around town, and have gotten a couple emails about it. It seems the Boston Public Health Commission has been putting up posters, and laying down stickers in bike lanes to alert cyclists to the importance of wearing helmets.

Sure its a little in your face, but wearing a helmet is a good idea. Reading the stickers you might think its the law to wear a helmet (it isn’t if you are over 16), but other than that no big deal. Wear your stupid helmet people, come on.

Then I ran across this.

Holy shit! Really!

That is some seriously heavy imagery, not the least of which because its a young black man with a bloody face posted in area of town heavily trafficked by young black people.  This is some seriously violent imagery for a public safety campaign.

I get what they are trying to do, its sorta like those anti-smoking campaigns.

The idea being that you make not wearing a helmet socially unacceptable by appealing to the fear people have of getting injured. Anti-smoking campaigns work in a similar way, appealing to peoples fear of mortality in order to get them to make different choices. However there are some important differences.

  1. Smoking is an addiction, addictions require stronger pushes to get people to fight them.
  2. Cycling is GOOD FOR YOU! Showing bloody images of people on posters is not going to encourage people to cycle.
  3. More cyclists seem to equal safer cyclists. Several studies have shown that increasing the number of cyclists on the road will actually make them safer.
  4. Most fatal crashes involve vehicles and cyclists. Helmets are good, but driver/cyclist education, better engineered roads, and enforcement will go a lot further in preventing these crashes than helmet usage will.

In my mind public safety campaigns should be about doing the most good for the most people. So lets take a hard look at this sort of campaign.

  1. This does nothing to educate drivers or cyclists to change their behaviour (cars turning without looking being one of the biggest safety threat to cyclists)
  2. It actively discourages cycling, I know I would not be cycling if I thought my face would end up like that
  3. Less cyclists = less safety for cyclists, safety in numbers works the other way when your numbers decrease.
  4. Cycling is good for reducing other public health threats (fights obesity and diabetes, reduces car pollution which causes asthma by replacing car drivers with bike riders, reduces heart disease, etc)
  5. Therefor less cyclists = more harm to the public health

So adding it all up, these bloody violent ad campaigns might actually do more harm than they avoid.

I would have rather these dollars spent on ad’s that warn car drivers about checking their mirrors before making turns.  You could use the exact same image, but instead put it up on a billboard near known traffic jam locations, with the text “Do you want to be responsible for the death of someones son. Check your mirrors for cyclists before turning.”

You could still put little stickers in bike lanes encouraging people to wear helmets, you could use the same slogan. But if you want to do the most good for the public health, you are going to want to encourage more people to bike.  Then educate drivers about how to handle the increased number of people on bicycle.

If you need a visual ad for encouraging helmet use, you could appeal to sex.  Have hot people in nothing but helmets (I guess its ok to see bloody faces but not naked people, use some bushes to hide the “naughty” bits), with the ad text “You look better in a helmet.”   Or a picture of a mother with the text “Your mother worries, wear your helmet” or any of a number of funnier/better ad’s that wouldn’t scare people away from cycling.

Helmets are good, and people should wear them. But showing a kid who looks like someone took a bat to his face is not going to get more people to ride their bike, and I think we would all be better off if more people rode their bikes, with or without helmets.

I tried to find more information about this campaign, but the URL on the poster doesn’t seem to work. Have you seen more of these posters around town? Are there other bloody imagery or just this one picture? Do you think the potential reduction in cyclist numbers is worth increasing the current percentage of cyclists who wear a helmet? Do you think these ad’s are effective? Let me know in the comments.



Action Alert: Call For Vulnerable Road User Bill Today

From MassBike

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Action Alert: Call TODAY For Vulnerable Road Users Bill

 

 

We filed the Vulnerable Road Users bill in January 2011 as the next step in our ongoing legislative efforts to protect bicyclists and other vulnerable users of our roadways. The bill would increase fines for motorists who kill or injure vulnerable users, and would require road safety education and community service teaching others about interacting safely with vulnerable users.

 

We have been working diligently behind the scenes on Beacon Hill since the bill had its first hearing last June in the Joint Committee on Transportation. The bill remains stuck in the Transportation Committee.

 

In early March, we submitted a streamlined redraft of the bill, clarifying its purpose and making it easier to understand. Later in March, with the deadline to report bills out of committee looming, we lobbied for and got a 30-day extension for the bill. That extension expires May 1st.

Yesterday, we delivered a letter to the Transportation Committee asking them to report favorably on the bill before the May 1 deadline. Joining us in support of the bill are WalkBoston,Massachusetts Public Health Association, Conservation Law Foundation, Boston Cyclists Union, and Transportation for Massachusetts.

 

TODAY, we need you to call or email your State Representative and your State Senator:

  1. Call or email your State Senator and ask him or her to ask Senator McGee, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation to report favorably on H3079 before May 1st.
    Click here to find out who your Senator is and how to contact him or her.  
  2. Call or email your State Representative and ask him or her to ask Representative Straus, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation to report favorably on H3079 before May 1st.
    Click here to find out who your Representative is and how to contact him or her.  
  3. Email action@massbike.org to let us know who you contacted.

If your senator or representative is actually a member of the Joint Committee on Transportation, it is especially important to contact them today!

 

Joint Committee on Transportation:

 

Senate Members:
Thomas McGee (Senate Chair)
Gale Candaras
Robert Hedlund
Brian Joyce
Marc Pacheco
Michael Rush

 

House Members:
William Straus (House Chair)
Mark Cusack
Marcos Devers
Peter Durant
Michael Finn
Steven Howitt
Timothy Madden
John Mahoney
James Miceli
Denise Provost
Carl Sciortino
Chris Walsh

 

Thanks so much for your help – as always, we couldn’t do this without you.