A bit of bakfiets press

From the AP: Why pay for gas and parking? Go Dutch. Don’t miss the movie.

24 thoughts on “A bit of bakfiets press”

  • Bruce Wilson

    The only objection I have to this is that there are several images of the children without helmets.

    Now, I know that the necessity of helmets is a point of contention, but Oregon has a mandatory helmet law for children. I don't like the idea of promoting people disobeying the law. If we started picking and choosing what parts of the law we are to obey, that way lies chaos and a return to the State of Nature in which, a wise old Brit reminds us, life is 'nasty, poor, brutish, and short;' civil society cannot endure unless citizens obey the law.

    Now, if you don't like the law, then work to change it; despite the Shrub's best efforts, we are still a representative democracy; but until the law is changed, it must be obeyed.

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  • Bill Manewal

    Just a little reminder, probably apropos of little: Everything that was carried out in Germany under Herr Hitler was utterly meticulously carefully legal. Something to consider in regard to a dictum like "it must be obeyed."

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  • John Sullivan

    This may be the quickest appearance of Godwin's Law ever, on the second post!

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  • neil

    Bruce comments on "images of the children without helmets" - shocking! Well shocking that they have made a law regarding it and shocking that you feel obliged to object to the pictures. I don't see it as at all "promoting people to disobey the law" - though I am not from the sue-happy USA and surely that is down to AP and the people featured isn't it?

    Does it apply to passengers in a cargo bike? Seems pretty stupid if so.

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  • Val

    ...oh, yes...shocking...yawn...

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  • Bill Manewal

    Thanks, John. I'd never heard of Godwin's Law, but it's a good one, and I'm dubiously proud to hold some sort of record!

    I found this part of the Wikipedia article interesting, and maybe even germane (excuse the pun):

    "...it applies to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Hitler or Nazis or their actions...

    However, Godwin's Law itself can be abused, as a distraction or diversion, that fallaciously miscasts an opponent's argument as hyperbole, especially if the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate. A 2005 Reason magazine article argued that Godwin's Law is often misused to ridicule even valid comparisons.[7]"

    I DO admit to being hyperbolic at times. “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

    Now, isn't THIS more fun than a helmet law argument?

    On topic: the publicity for cycle transportation (and Dutch cargo bikes in particular) is wonderful.

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  • Bruce Wilson

    Well, I don't have kids, but if I did I wouldn't want their little skulls bounced off the pavement without some sort of protection. But that's just me.

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  • Todd (admin)

    Some sort of protection...in the case of the bakfiets, children are strapped into a screwed-and-glued marine plywood box, low to the ground, bolted to a heavy steel frame whose steering column serves as a roll cage. I've crashed one at speed with my child inside, by the way. No part of his body left the bak. Elsewhere one commentator remarked that because the bak is fairly open, and the bakfiets heavy, that somehow children could become wedged between the bak and the road, and be crushed. That one takes the cake. Do you know how most young kids are killed? Their parents back over them.

    It's so sad to me that so many people, upon seeing children on bikes, can think only of skulls and pavement. It's depraved, really. So: if you have an actual child-on-bike injury or death you need to discuss, that isn't in fact just another red herring to distract from the real #1 killer of children, speak up. Otherwise please keep the morbid child-maiming fantasies off this site. In fact, maybe I'll just moderate it away, just like I suppose Bruce would like to see images of helmetless children on bikes censored on the grounds that they "promote" lawlessness.

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  • Mighk

    If one is going to pass a law to protect people from harm, the most rational approach is to target the largest at-risk group first. So; largest group to suffer brain injuries in traffic -- motorists. Second largest -- pedestrians. Third -- motorcyclists. Fourth -- bicyclists.

    (Oh, wait... Legislatures don't work that way. They do the most politically expedient thing, not the rational thing.)

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  • Mark Stosberg

    Bruce Wilson:

    You might enjoy this article by the British Medical Journal on helmet safety, or as they call it: Dangers of helmets. Their conclusion: "not cycling is really dangerous", and helmet use can deter cycling.

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  • Mauricio Babilonia

    How odd, that noone so far has mentioned that the video in question contains seven (7) shots of the child with a properly-fitted helmet (including two shots of a parent putting the helmet on) in the course of running a real errand, and only one brief shot of the child unrestrained and unhelmeted which appears to be a brief spin down the street close to home. Somehow I doubt these folks are habitual offenders.

    Also, thanks Bruce, for the gentle reminder about our collective obligation to obey the law. Your assignment now, since you seem to have plenty of time to preach, is to seek an audience outside the choir. I suggest you seek out a proportionate number of automobile-owner forums and post similar comments admonishing motor vehicle operators for their loose adherence to traffic regulations governing speed limits, stop signs, traffic signals, sobriety, attentiveness and the like. I should think one comment on each of twenty-five forums ought to do the trick, and how about you post links to each back here so we can see how that's received? Thanks a bunch!

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  • Bruce Wilson

    "Mighk Says:

    September 18th, 2007 at 6:11 pm
    If one is going to pass a law to protect people from harm, the most rational approach is to target the largest at-risk group first. So; largest group to suffer brain injuries in traffic—motorists. Second largest—pedestrians. Third—motorcyclists. Fourth—bicyclists."

    Are these statistics adjusted to injuries per passenger-mile, or just raw numbers of injuries?

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  • Mighk Wilson

    Bruce asked:
    "Are these statistics adjusted to injuries per passenger-mile, or just raw numbers of injuries?"

    They're raw numbers, and that's my point. From a public welfare perspective, you focus on the efforts that will do the most good for the greatest number, not to reduce the risk for those at highest risk. People tend to recognize activities that are truly high risk and avoid them. Bicycling is NOT a high-risk activity, for brain injury or otherwise, but through helmet laws and other misguided efforts, it is perceived to be a step or two below cave-diving.

    I have no doubt that if motor vehicle drivers (and passengers) and pedestrians wore helmets it would cut brain injuries much more than bicycle helmet use does, but of course neither group would allow such a law to be passed. The majority (motorists & pedestrians) can easily pass laws controlling the minority (bicyclists); the opposite is very rare.

    And I am NOT anti-helmet. I wear one (most times). I'm just anti-helmet law.

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  • Bruce Wilson

    "And I am NOT anti-helmet. I wear one (most times). I’m just anti-helmet law."

    A perfectly coherent position. If you want to lobby for repeal of the helmet laws, go right ahead; I wish you all luck.

    But until the law is reapealed or amended, it must be obeyed. Obedience to the law is basic to the maintainance of civil society. A clever old Greek explained this a very long time ago: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/crito.html

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  • Val

    Indeed, all laws must be obeyed at all times, and, of course, any portrayal of anyone engaging in extralegal behavior must be supressed and censored because to portray something is to endorse and encourage it. Shame on all of us for watching or reading anything of such a nature (you know you did). I must admit that I frequently contravene the local dress code by wearing a hat that is not officially approved for my chosen activity. Hopefully, no one will ever show a picture of me doing so, or publish any of my remarks (or is it too late? horrors!). I must just be a rebel.

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  • Bruce A. Wilson

    "any portrayal of anyone engaging in extralegal behavior must be supressed and censored because to portray something is to endorse and encourage it."

    If it is necessary to portray such behavior there should be some express or strongly implied disclaimer that such behavior is not advocated by the author.

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  • Mighk

    There are plenty of ridiculous laws out there. There are also laws some believe to be downright immoral. But we all have to pick our priorities in life. Sometimes fighting the injust law makes sense; sometimes merely flaunting it is good enough.

    What bothers me so much about the helmet crusade is that I see people spending way too much time and energy ensuring that kids wear helmets, but nowhere near enough time teaching them how to properly ride a bicycle. I focus my time on teaching people how to ride. (I'm an LCI.)

    Also, the "science" behind helmet laws is at best shaky.

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  • neil

    "If it is necessary to portray such behavior there should be some express or strongly implied disclaimer that such behavior is not advocated by the author."

    What!! No way. I'm not in USA, but I don't believe there is any law against showing children not wearing helmets, so there is nothing illegal about the pictures or video of that article. And I still can see how you can say that video or article "promoted" breaking the law.

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  • neil

    aghh: can see -> can't see

    I can't see how you can say that “promoted” breaking the law.

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  • Val

    Let's not forget all the books, movies, articles, pictures, radio programs, and magazines all over the world that portray extralegal behavior in various forms. Disclaimers in every case? Yikes!

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  • Ian Hopper

    I vote we don't respond to Bruce Wilson's flame-bait helmet trolls anymore. I think this is the third time now...

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  • neil

    Yes, sorry. Never sure if he is genuine or troll.

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  • Andy B from Jersey
    Andy B from Jersey October 3, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    All right lets get some sanity back into this conversation. Here is my 2cents about helmets.
    First, the REAL reason why you need to wear a helmet is not to protect yourself from a self induced accident but to protect your noggin as your body goes flying 100ft though the air after being punted by the car with that butthead driver who was paying more attention to the cellphone call than to driving that 2 ton behemoth. Riding a bike would be perfectly safe if it weren't for the damn cars on the road.
    Second, (yes a car analogy) when people normally drive a car they don't wear helmets. However if your racing a car, you are pushing th limits of control and are then required to wear a helmet because the risk of an accident is so much greater. This is common sense approach to helmet use should also apply to cyclists.
    Cruising around town casually down to the grocery store: No Helmet.
    Hauling "A" on your road bike and flying down hills at over 50mph or bombing down the trail within the limits of control: Wear a Helmet!!!! exactly how the rules how I feel helmet use

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  • Andy B from Jersey
    Andy B from Jersey October 3, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    All right lets get some sanity back into this conversation. Here is my 2cents about helmets.
    First, the REAL reason why you need to wear a helmet is not to protect yourself from a self induced accident but to protect your noggin as your body goes flying 100ft though the air after being punted by the car with that butthead driver who was paying more attention to the cellphone call than to driving that 2 ton behemoth. Riding a bike would be perfectly safe if it weren't for the damn cars on the road.
    Second, (yes a car analogy) when people normally drive a car on the streets they don't wear helmets. However if your racing a car, you are pushing the limits of control and are then required to wear a helmet because the risk of an accident is so much greater. This is common sense approach to helmet use should also apply to cyclists.
    Cruising around town casually down to the grocery store: No Helmet.
    Hauling "A" on your road bike and flying down hills at over 50mph or bombing down the trail within the limits of control: Wear a Helmet!!!!

    Reply
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