eBike blog – personal experience with sustainable transport for the new millenium

Car-head mentality

Just want to mention a really good post I just read [once again posted to CM-Melb] about the mentality we have in most western countries of being completely car-centric in our attitudes to transport: Car-head (Bicycle Neglect #1).

Even as a committed 2-wheeler of all kinds for nearly all my life, I know I often feel the same regarding cars: I still ride in them semi-regularly despite not having owned one for 99% of my life, and I am not hugely surprised or even particularly offended when drivers are completely oblivious. I largely attribute my *touch wood* lack of accidents on motorcycle, scooter bike and ebike to never expecting drivers to see me or consider my road rights, and to ride like I am completely invisible to any potential approaching vehicle, especially any larger than me. That and, of course, I am a complete wuss and never have been into riding any sort of bike just for the thrill: it’s always been about getting from a-b and not killing myself on the process.

But it begs a very important question: why should we think that way? Why are cars considered the default and ruling vehicle choice? As the energy crisis looms, we will find it less and less a feasible default means of transportation, and that will mean a big mentality change for everyone unless technology steps in with very clever LEVs on a mass scale. And why should we wait anyway? I would love to be in one of the European cities where it is normal for bikes to be everywhere, where helmets aren’t legislated [and there are less accidents because there are more bikes, thus less need for the things anyway] and people get around on bikes as a matter of course.

Unfortunately, cities started since the advent of car culture are designed around the damn things, so pretty obviously – we will need to redesign these cities before we can redesign our attitudes.

In other news, the Cassidy Express is on loan to my pal Mal, and I’m happy to see it being in action again instead of sitting lonely and locked up in the laundry. And I’m thinking of getting a Trikke, too. Not electric [though they make a rather cute electric bike called the Trikke Bikke which you could probably get away with taking with you on public transport – it’s *tiny*!] but looks like a hell of a fun HPV. And I hardly ever use my rollerblades any more.


2 Comments so far

  1. Craig Richmond June 18th, 2007 2:48 am

    There is an assumption that less 2 wheeled road users are killed in countries where they are more common but I’m not sure it’s 100% true.

    Nationmaster.com has lots of great stats. Did you know that 7 people died of flatulence related conditions?

    Anyway, the following table has per capita fatalities of cyclists colliding with cars


    #1 – Hungary with 20.8854 deaths per 1 million people
    #9 – Netherlands with 6.8873 deaths per 1 million people
    #12 – Denmark with 4.78645 deaths per 1 million people
    #15 – New Zealand with 3.71747 deaths per 1 million people
    #25 – Australia with 1.49328 deaths per 1 million people
    (and second last on the list)
    #44 – United Kingdom 0.0992704 deaths per 1 million people

    These stats are per capita of population not per cyclist, so the numbers may be skewed up with the number of cyclists. However, it simply isn’t true that there are less accidents because there are more bikes. More people die riding bikes in places where there are lots of bicycles than they do in Australia.

    The stats are also warped because different countries classify things differently. I’m pretty sure the UK is the bottom of the list because there aren’t many cyclists on account of it a damp rainy place a lot of the time. They may also classify the fatalities in a different category because there are lots to choose from.

    As for helmets not being mandatory, they really do make you more likely to survive an accident or reduce the extent of your injuries. The best argument against the laws to make them mandatory is that it discourages people from riding “because helmets aren’t cool” or “it’ll mess up my hair” (one that you should be able to appreciate 😉

    In my brief look to make sure I wasn’t babbling, I found this link which had some good links. It’s from the British Medical Association recommending that helmets should be worn by all cyclists.




  2. Cass July 6th, 2007 2:27 pm

    I’m thinking I surely made a post not long ago which refuted the claims you are making, but I don’t have time now to make another post about it. I’ll look into the pages you’ve given, but in the meantime I think half the problem you’ve already stated: These stats are per capita of population not per cyclist. More soon.


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