A Soft Brush with the Law

A soft brush

Ok, it happened. A [soft] brush with the Law.

Cycling into CERA to pick up the new Central City Transport Plan, I was coasting along the footpath on Montreal, I breezed up to the pedestrian crossing, and hit the button to cross. This seemed to summons an Officer of the Law on a Bicycle (or perhaps that’s my crazy Meerkat imagination again!).

An Officer of the Law with her bicycle

Very nicely, on this lovely sunny day, she said: ” You wouldn’t happen to have a helmet in that lovely basket of yours, would you?”.

“No,” said I, meekly.

“Well,” she said, “it’s for your own safety you know.”

“Yes,” said I, meekly.

We sized each other up for a bit, then I said:

“Did you know that most injuries cyclists sustain are not to the head but to the upper arms etc etc.” (as per my Homework Reading mentioned previously)?

“No,” she said, most pleasantly, and with genuine interest, “I didn’t know that.”

We sized each other up some more … Then she said:

“Riding on the footpath is not a good idea either. You know, cars just back out, it’s quite dangerous.”

A nice safe place to ride

“Yes,” I agreed, “that’s why we really need separated cycling facilities, because those Jolly Cars are just so Dangerous.”

A safe place to ride

You should tell that to the City Council,” she urged.

I will not list my thoughts on that advice here … but you can imagine them …Quite Easily

“Well, as a matter of fact,” I assured her, “that is just where I’m off to now!” (small white lie, but CCDU is close enough to CERA)

The Officer of the Law looked a little impressed with me (I hope). And as we parted company, she reminded me that I would not be riding Keith, but walking … which I did.

How am I faring on my Experiment to ride Helmet-lessly? Well, I still feel safe and perceive myself to be safe; and, to my surprise, when I was stopped by the O-o-t-L, my heart did not race, my BP remained quite stable, and I was not at all Intimated nor Anxious.

“Excuse me…”

Today, however,  my Courage a little Dented, I did wear my helmet  and got the Fright of my Life as a bus cruised by me in St Asaph Street (a narrow part of course) within an inch of my Underwear.

There must be a Moral in that somewhere.

5 thoughts on “A Soft Brush with the Law”

  1. I’ve heard that wearing a helmet tends to make motorists pass closer. I think there are studies but don’t have the energy to reference right now (>_<) Anywho riding out in the lane also makes motorists perceive you as a "vehicle" and therefore something to go around, as opposed to "a thing in the gutter" to speed past at close proximity.

  2. The study you mean was done by Dr Ian Walker at the University of Bath – see http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/articles/archive/overtaking110906.html (or http://drianwalker.com/overtaking/ for the actual research). Dr Walker’s theory about his findings was that someone with a helmet on was viewed as a different “sub-culture” rather than just another human being on a bike.

    Nothing to do with helmets, but you might also be interested in some local research done in Wellington on motorists passing bicycles – http://cyclingwellington.co.nz/2012/10/minding-the-gap-and-the-door-zone/

  3. Time and time again, Europeans have clearly stated that cycle helmets increase your risk of injury. That’s why we are the only country on the entire planet to actively enforce them. Simple. I also notice that most people pass me in a safer fashion when I am riding my vintage bike, compared to those who dress up like Lance Armstrong. Hi vis also has the same effect in making cycling more dangerous. It’s not your responsibility to be seen, it’s a drivers responsibility to look while they are steering a 1 ton metal machine through our towns.

  4. Wouldnt it be nice to be cycling sophisticated like in Europe – I dont particularly want to wear a high vis vest or helmet, but if i came off my bike whether by car or by pot hole my head is better off with 2 inches of polystyrene between it and the road. Texting teens driving a car approaching you from behind are more likely to see a high vis vest then your tailored tweed jacket.

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