Letters to the Editor

Safe Craniums for All

Beloved Bicyclists,

I am writing to address that tired subject: bicycle helmets. I have worked with the SF Safe Kids Coalition to provide cheap helmets for children and adults through my workplace with the Department of Public Health and at my daughters' elementary school. While doing that work, I got the news that my partner's mother had fallen off her bicycle and broken bones in her face, collar bone, ribs, and leg. Her helmet got busted up too, which probably explains the happy ending of her being triathlete-capable in her 70's.

Meanwhile, I continue to see people of all ages avoid wearing bicycle helmets. Most astonishingly, many ardent, admirable bicycle activists. What's up with that? Wouldn't you rather put a dent in someone's door than in your head? I am weary of the pseudo-libertarian "it's my head and I'm a free-agent" thing. I'm a nurse and my colleagues are there to pick up the pieces afterwards and care for those with head injuries. Guess what? It's a heck of a lot more pleasant and easier to prevent head injuries than it is to recover from them. And hitting anything at a good speed will screw you up too, so this is not just about them evil automobiles.

Helmets are condoms for your head. When they fit right, they're tight. If you wear one every ride, you'll ride longer and show that you respect yourself. If you don't wear one regularly, ask yourself why not. I haven't yet heard a good reason not to.

Sasha Cuttler
San Francisco

Hubba Dub DUBs

Dear Editor,

The article on Holland (Aug./Sept. '99) brought back pleasant memories. I lived in Amsterdam for three years. The crown jewels of the Dutch bicycle infrastructure are Dedicated Urban Bikeways (DUBs) separated from car traffic with a curb or median. They're based on the idea that cars, bicycles, and walking are three distinct modes of transport, each needing its own traffic corridor whenever possible.

It was wonderful- urban bicycling with no opening car doors, no cars parked in or swerving into bike lanes, and greatly reduced car noise and exhaust. They're very effective at reducing mid-block car-bike accidents, fear, and stress. In fact, bicycling is so relaxed that specific features have to be built into the DUBs to refocus relaxed bicyclists' attention at intersections. I have photos and slides of the DUBs. Readers who would like to see them, help put up a website, or explore how DUBs could be created here with minimal infrastructure modification, can contact me at 415-820-1515 or .

Billy Ray Boyd
San Francisco

Pass on the Left!

Dear Editor,

There are a lot of new bicyclists on the road that don't know the ropes. Often, inexperienced riders will pass on the right - which is dangerous and scary! Please help get the word out. Pass on the left and a nice warning before would be real nice, too.

Lalo BakHama
San Francisco