WE GOTS INFORMATIONS: MORE THAN YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW, AND LESS, ON THE BICYCLING RESEARCH PAGE

DRILL FOR KNOWLEDGE AT THE ENERGY & TRANSPORT HUB

THE I.C. ENCOURAGES COMMENTS, EVEN COMPLAINTS . EMAIL: ROBERT AT INDUSTRIALIZEDCYCLIST DOT COM

READ A HURST BOOK

BIG PROBLEMS WITH LITTLE HELMETS

EVEN GEEKIER

NEW AND IMPROVED

WU-TANG MOUNTAIN BIKING

BEST RIDES?

 

           
 

 

WHAT ELSE IS UP: Watch oil price here. 2014 NYC IN-SEASON CYCLING INDICATOR (pdf).  SAN FRANCISCO BIKE COUNTS 2014 (pdf) Flat since 2013.  What's In Your Backpack?? (YouTube) -- Hurst-related video. Answer: One banana, forgotten. Hey! Road Biking Colorado (FalconGuides) and Family Biking: The Parent's Guide to Safe Cycling in stores now. 

See  THE INDUSTRIALIZED CYCLIST NOTE PAD  for juicy chunks of information related to transportation, energy, war, bicycling, Mayans, helicopters, jackups and Ku-Maloob-Zaap.


Check out the table of contents, index, bibliography and cover propaganda of THE ART OF MOUNTAIN BIKING: SINGLETRACK SKILLS FOR ALL RIDERS  

SHOP FOR IT ON AMAZON, BARNES N NOBLETATTERED COVERPOWELL'S. Thanks.

 

Big Problems With Little Helmets

Why are we strapping toddlers into helmets that are designed to slow down adult heads in high speed wrecks?

When Christie and I started researching Family Biking: The Parent's Guide to Safe Cycling, we didn't think the book would go too far beyond a feel-good pep talk for nervous and bike-curious parents, with a comprehensive buyers' guide for all kinds of family biking products, from bike seats to bakfietsen. But once we got into it, we could see that the book would have to plow into some heavy stuff and ponder uncomfortable truths. In particular, we realized that many of our long-held assumptions about kids' bike helmets were completely false. For instance we were shocked to learn that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) allows the helmet companies to certify their own helmets, and print up their own CPSC certification stickers, without any testing by the CPSC. We also learned that some shady helmet makers have taken advantage of this regime, fraudulently stickering hundreds of thousands of substandard helmets and selling them to American parents before anybody noticed. 

Worst of all, in my opinion anyway, we learned that kids' helmets--those that actually meet the standards, mind you--are not even optimized for kids' heads!

Back in 1994, when the nation was swirling in a vortex of helmet-mania, Congress passed a law requiring the CPSC to create and enforce new, tougher bike helmet standards for kids. The law was specifically aimed at children: The Children's Bicycle Helmet Safety Act. As a result of this law, the CPSC created a whole slew of detailed helmet standards--for adults. But after all the sound and fury about protecting kids, the agency allowed helmet companies to continue making kids' helmets that were basically miniature versions of adult helmets, using the same materials. The only special requirement for youth helmets was a little extra coverage in the back. This was the outcome that the helmet companies were looking for, but it left many experts shaking their heads in disbelief.

So even today, 20 years later, kids' bike helmets are constructed with the same polystyrene materials, with the same density, that are used to make adult helmets; they must pass the same tests, at the same parameters, and are tested with an adult-weight headform. Why could this be a bad thing? Because (1) kids' heads are actually much lighter than adults' (roughly 3 kg versus 5 kg). This means that youth helmets are even less likely to soften blows than adult helmets, which are often criticized for being too stiff even for adults. A helmet liner that reduces a deceleration from impact to 250 g in a lab, with a 5-kg headform, will fail to reduce the same impact to much under 400 g when strapped to an actual kid's lighter head! And because (2) kids' brains are more vulnerable than adult heads. Their brains are still developing vital physical connections and need significantly more impact mitigation, more g-force reduction than adult brains, not significantly less which is what they get now with the current standards and tests. And because (3) kids do a lot of falling off bikes at relatively low speed--it's their thing. The kind of high-energy racer-boy car-smashing impact for which bike helmets appear to be designed (because it's now been admitted that they don't soften low- and medium-energy impacts enough to prevent concussions*) would most likely kill a toddler anyway even if the helmet gave complete protection to his head. The helmet the kid is wearing does not really address the type of dangerous blow to the head the kid is most likely to suffer. So, long story short, youth helmets should be significantly softer.

This is hardly a new or controversial argument. Industry insiders and outsiders have been making the exact same argument since the standards were being deliberated decades ago. A few examples: A senior engineer at Bell, Jim Sundahl, wrote the CPSC a letter that was entered into the public record. He implored the Commission to change its testing parameters for youth helmets, and dismissed the alleged concern that changing the rules could result in making helmets too soft for kids. He noted that Bell had sold hundreds of thousands of youth helmets (by 1998) and the company had "never seen an infant/toddler helmet that was anywhere near bottoming out;" he had personally examined scores of crashed kids' helmets without finding any crushing whatsoever. Here's Sundahl's letter. ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) has repeatedly criticized the CPSC's helmet standards as well. "...Impact reduction for children requires a combination of material thickness and density to produce helmet liners that are 'softer' than those often used in present day helmets," ASTM confirmed in their 2014 study of the helmet standard. And here's that study (abstract).

You know what the helmet companies will say about this--that is, if they are ever forced to answer for this scandal, which they haven't been yet. They will say that studies show that helmets are already effective at reducing injuries in children, even though these studies barely address little kids at all. (The hyper-cited Seattle meta-study by Thompson and Rivara, published in '96, included only one brain-injured child under 6 years old among its thousands of studied subjects, thus "precluding estimation of effect in this [age] group."**) They will say that making helmets softer and larger will make them unattractive to kids. They will say that making helmets softer will leave kids more vulnerable to high-energy impacts. I imagine they will give all kinds of limp excuses to avoid responsibility for concussed kids and to avoid changing their extremely convenient and highly profitable business practices. I imagine they will attack the messengers to distract from the message. Ultimately, when push comes to shove, they will hide behind and point fingers at the CPSC, the captured regulator.

Dear CPSC, change the standards and testing parameters for youth helmets. Dear helmet companies, just make softer helmets for kids already.

It's ridiculous really, if you think about it very much at all. We spend so much energy cajoling kids into wearing helmets, and coercing parents to put helmets on their kids. Most parents wouldn't dream of letting their kids ride bikes (or ride on bikes) without one, and any parent that did would be ticketed and publicly scorned. We forbid them to ride without helmets, while none of our parents did the same to us. Such is the triumph of the helmet biz. And yet we can't even give our kid a helmet designed for her lighter and more vulnerable brain, but strap her into some miniaturized version of an adult's lid instead, with the assurance that it's good enough? And this makes us feel warm and cozy like we've done our job as parents? And when these helmets prove not to be good enough, when they fail, completely, to protect kids' brains from concussion in low-speed impacts, we just shrug about it? For 20 years? Lame. Seriously lame. Shameful, in fact. Shameful and lameful.

If anything, adult bicyclists should be made to get by with larger versions of child helmets, not the other way around.

It is our sincere hope that Family Biking, if it achieves nothing else, will help wake up parents and push the CPSC and helmet merchants to do the right thing: strengthen youth helmet standards, soften youth helmets.

 

*The CPSC's official position has evolved to this: "No helmet design has been proven to prevent concussions." Note: not just bike helmets, and not just for kids. "Beware of claims that a particular helmet can prevent or reduce concussion." (Emphasis theirs.) [http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Guides/Sports-Fitness-and-Recreation/Bicycles/Which-Helmet-for-Which-Activity/] Furthermore, the CPSC now says, in a concussion "fact sheet" for parents, that "helmets are not designed to prevent concussions." [http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/custom/headsupconcussion_fact_sheet_for_parents.pdf] These admissions probably have more to do with youth football helmets than bike helmets.

**This blind spot in the data did not stop the study's authors from claiming a protective effect for helmets across all age groups, which they proclaimed in the abstract and the conclusion, the only parts of the paper that journalists and laypeople will ever see. Also in the study's conclusion, the authors go out of their way to say that their study shows that little kids don't need better helmet standards, another statement that has little support in the paper's data. "Effectiveness of Bicycle Safety Helmets in Preventing Head Injuries," JAMA, 1996. For more on this study see http://industrializedcyclistnotes.com/2016/01/09/thompson-rivara-thompson-96/ .

FAMILY BIKING: THE PARENT'S GUIDE TO SAFE CYCLING  2015

Co-authored with Christie! A comprehensive guide for parents who want to pass their love of bicycling on to their kids. Learn how to bike safely with babies and toddlers, then teach them to ride on their own. With a buyer's guide to kids' helmets, trailers, cargo bikes of all kinds and kids' bikes. (No that's not us on the cover.)

IT'S HERE!!!: POWELL'S, TATTERED COVERAMAZONBARNES N NOBLE.

MARCH 10, 2015

Even Geekier

To those looking for a deeper dive into the fascinating world of bicycling history, please see "The Ghost Track" in the November-December 2014 issue of Colorado Heritage Magazine (pdf), published by History Colorado. The article is about the birth, brief life and death of the Denver Wheel Club track, once considered the finest cycling facility in the world (pictured above in an illustration by Wilbur Steele). The track's very existence, let alone its monumental significance, had escaped the notice of historians. When the track hosted the LAW's national championship races in 1894, the hardcore racism and sexism of the city's wheelmen was put on very loud display.

I would love to do a lot more of this kind of original research, in bike history and other areas too, but the combination of long hours in libraries and zero dollars in return makes the prospect unlikely for the foreseeable future. I need a grant, a benefactor, a visionary publisher to bring more history articles to life.

In the meantime, I'm excited to announce that two new Hurst books are getting glazed and fired in the depths of the Falcon factory at this very moment, and should be on the shelves this spring. 

  

ROAD BIKING COLORADO  2015

From the cliffs of Colorado National Monument to the switchbacks of Pikes Peak, this book is packed with hard-to-believe rides and stories. It was a joy to produce and I hope it's a joy to read.

TATTERED COVERAMAZON, REI, BARNES N NOBLE.

JUNE 6, 2014

New and Improved!

You may have seen or heard something about The Art of Cycling, originally titled The Art of Urban Cycling, a book about riding bikes in traffic. A brand new updated and expanded edition has just invaded the Normandy that is the shelf at your local bookstore. It's called The Art of Cycling: Staying Safe on City Streets.

For all road users, traffic safety depends primarily on anticipating and avoiding the inevitable mistakes of those around you. You may know this anticipating-and-avoiding as 'defensive driving.' For bicyclists and other 'vulnerable road users,' defensive skills are critically important.

Defensive driving advice has been shoveled out in great heaps to drivers and motorcyclists for decades, and it's a good thing. For some reason, bicyclists have been served a very different message. "Ride predictably," They tell us. "Follow the law and wear a helmet." Okay advice, sure, but not adequate safety advice by a long shot. A quick glance at accident statistics proves it: Most adult cyclists who get hit by cars are riding lawfully and predictably when they are hit.

Experience teaches street riders trick after trick to stay safe -- how to read surfaces in a certain way, and how to anticipate and avoid the mistakes of motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists. Will it be possible to teach beginners this art of defensive bicycling in a book? I'm not exactly sure, but I do know you won't find this kind of detailed, experience-honed advice anywhere else.

The book puts it all in context as well, with discussion of the history of transportation and urban development, the folly of accident statistics, and the weird cult of bike equipment. The Art of Cycling: Staying Safe on City Streets also contains practical advice about equipment choice, bike fit, flat repair and basic maintenance, all delivered in an easygoing and humorous style.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Hurst is an old-school bike lover who safely completed over 80,000 deliveries as a bicycle messenger. He is the author of The Cyclist's Manifesto, The Art of Mountain Biking: Singletrack Skills for All Riders, Best Bike Rides Denver and Boulder, and Road Biking Colorado's Front Range (all FalconGuides) as well as other bike-related books. You can harass him on Twitter@roberthurst157, or send an email to Robert@industrializedcyclist.com.

GET THE BOOK: AMAZON, POWELL'S, TATTERED COVER, BARNES AND NOBLE

A review of the previous edition: "The Best Protection When Riding Your Bike? A Book!"

More background on The Art of [Urban] Cycling here.

JULY 21, 2013

Best Rides?

 

Over the past year a few really cool things happened around here. I won't bore you with the details except for one -- I wrote a new book called Best Bike Rides Denver and Boulder, which, as you might have guessed, is a cycling guide for the Denver-Boulder area. But this isn't your typical guidebook, oh no. This one is unique in that it includes both road rides and mountain bike trail rides. Yup. In the same book. Dogs and cats living together. 

The mountain bike section includes a near-comprehensive lineup of area off-road rides (just about all of them). The road rides are more selective, geared toward more casual, relaxing rides for beginners and intermediate bicyclists, although there are some toughies included as well. 

Best rides? Well... That's a subjective judgment. But there are a lot of very fun rides included (40 full chapters plus 15 or so short descriptions). It's also a full-color and very handsome book, with nice maps made from GPS tracks. Beyond that, I wrote the heck out of it, with tons of information about the history of the areas the rides pass through. And of course, sly remarks. Lots of sly remarks.

Please buy the book, read it, use it, enjoy it. I hope you like it, and if you don't, please let me know why at robert @ industrializedcyclist.com. Or harrass me on the twitter @roberthurst157.

You can always get it through Amazon, or try my favorite local bookstore, Capitol Hill Books (they don't have it yet, but call them anyway and say hi, and ask them why the heck not). 

SHOP FOR IT ON AMAZONBARNES N NOBLETATTERED COVER.

Thanks folks. Take care out there.

BEST BIKE RIDES DENVER AND BOULDER  2013

Road and mountain bike rides, in the same book! Whether you're a 90-year-old beginner or an EPO-banging professional, you'll find plenty of fun in this full-color guide jammed with maps, photos, history and humor. Get lost in this book, not on your ride.

SHOP FOR IT: TATTERED COVERAMAZONBARNES N NOBLE.

MARCH 6, 2012

Wu-Tang Mountain Biking

The Art of Mountain Biking: Singletrack Skills for All Riders is not your typical mountain bike book. Instead of laying out a plain directional manual for off-road skills ("do this... don't do that..."), The Art of Mountain Biking digs deeper into the underlying physical and mental functions that lead to great trail riding. It's a mind-skills book. Like my earlier book The Art of Urban Cycling, this book is a compilation of bicycling wisdom from a multitude of highly experienced individuals.  I guarantee it will surprise you and change the way you think and move on the trail, whether you're a beginner or expert.

Learn the science of relaxation and balance, how to attach yourself to the bike, the importance of controlling the weight of the head, how to use the eyes, the philosophy of line choice, pitfalls like hazard fixation, et cetera. Along the way we'll compare mountain biking to other sports, from ju jitsu to rock climbing to horseback riding, motorcycle racing, surfing, skiing -- even bowling -- to see what we can learn. In addition to the holistic approach to trail skills, there are specific instructions and tips for certain important moves. There is also discussion of logistics, like what to bring on a long ride and how to keep a group together. The end of the book gets into the big picture stuff, environmental impact, trail maintenance and access, among other issues, and wonders about the future of the sport.

Thanks for reading. I hope you purchase 1,300 or more copies from your local independent bookseller, like TATTERED COVER, or POWELL'SFailing that, one of these guys: AMAZON, BARNES N NOBLE.

Read a lot more about it.

Thanks.

FEBRUARY 12, 2012

Boulder Streets Safe?

Review of the 2012 Boulder Safe Streets Report (pdf), and suggestions for future analysis.


The first litmus test that I apply to these crash studies, kind of like Van Halen's infamous M-and-M contract rider, is this: How does the study break down the crash stats by the age of the bicyclist, if at all? After all, that info is available in the police reports, and it’s critical to any crash study's usefulness. Well, the Boulder study is better than most but still doesn't use this age information in any meaningful way. Its authors tell us only how the overall bike-car crash count breaks down by age, a metric which doesn’t say anything important to them, as it seems to jibe at first glance with the overall demographic of the city. The studiers don't go any deeper into the age information, failing to cross-tabulate age with fault or type of wreck. This is like offering someone a delicious-looking donut, but only allowing them to nibble a few sprinkles off the top. Incredibly frustrating, and useless. But typical. It fails the litmus test. 


Anyway, here's what else I can get out of it. ...

READ MORE ...

 

JANUARY 21, 2012

When Rims Find Glory

Rims get discarded when they're taco'd beyond repair in crashes, or simply put out to pasture along with bad hubs and neglected bikes, but most folks will go through their entire bicycling lives without ever wearing an actual rim down to the nub.

This is what the end of a rim's long life looks like: Due to brake-caused wear on the surface, the thickness of the rim's sidewall diminishes to the point that the air pressure begins to force it outward, and it cracks. 

 

READ MORE ...

Some Hurst energy propaganda: THE RESERVES MYTH 1 , 2 , DRILLING FOR DIMWITS , THE REFINERIES MYTH , A QUESTION FOR PRIUS OWNERS , THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN IS UNSUSTAINABLE , more in the ARCHIVES.

EVEN OLDER STUFF:   WHEN RIMS FIND GLORY, THE THINGS IT CARRIED, FRAC-ENSTEIN, 44 MONTHS ,  PLOWSHARES A.K.A. FRUKING ,  A CHILLING DAMPER , COPS N ROBERTS ,  ELECTRIC KOOLAIDFRESH LIES , THE WANDERING DENVERITE , THANKS I STOLE...  RUGRATS IN THE STATS , COVER COPY , CASUALTIES , THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN IS UNSUSTAINABLE , AN ESPECIALLY THICK INFO SHIELD , DIRT SWEET DIRTBICYCLE STINK FACE , DRILLING FOR DIMWITS ,THE REFINERIES MYTH , THE RESERVES MYTH 1 , 2 , A NEW ERA IN SIGNAGE 3, MIND SUCKThe PHYSIOLOGY of BICYCLING , PRAIRIE STEAMERS  

SIT BACK AND CHILL AND READ THE I.C. ARCHIVE  

1. A QUESTION FOR PRIUS OWNERS

2. MIND SUCK

3. WEIRD LITTLE BOOK

4. WALL OF NOTHING

THE ART OF MOUNTAIN BIKING: SINGLETRACK SKILLS FOR ALL RIDERS  2011

No matter how many years/miles you ride, you'll never master the unique art of riding a two-wheeled machine on a skinny, rocky trail in the mountains. No matter how good you get, the trail will always be a little bit better. This book leaves few 'babyheads' unturned in its quest to provide useful trail-riding tips for all riders, from beginner to expert. Robert Hurst's love for the mountains, the trails and the bottomless challenge of riding them shines through in this darkly humorous manual.

SHOP FOR IT ON AMAZONBARNES N NOBLE, TATTERED COVERPOWELL'S.

READ MORE ABOUT IT. SHOP FOR IT ON AMAZON, BARNES N NOBLETATTERED COVERPOWELL'S.

BEST BIKE RIDES DENVER AND BOULDER  2013

Road and mountain bike rides, in the same book! Whether you're a 90-year-old beginner or an EPO-banging professional, you'll find plenty of fun in this full-color guide jammed with maps, photos, history and humor. Get lost in this book, not on your ride.

SHOP FOR IT: TATTERED COVERAMAZONBARNES N NOBLE.