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Helmet study authors change their tune

The first major study of bicycle helmet effectiveness, and probably the most famous and most often quoted is the 1989 case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets by Thompson, Rivara and Thomas. This is the study that concluded that "riders with helmets had an 85 percent reduction in their risk of head injury... and an 88 percent reduction in their risk of brain injury." These numbers have been repeated ever since by a variety of medical and insurance organizations and government agencies, despite the fact that "later efforts to replicate those results found a weaker connection between helmets and head injuries." In fact, in 2013, in response to a petition from WABA, the CDC and NHTSA agreed to remove these estimates from their website. 

Now, in 2015, Thompson, Rivara and Thompson have a new study out that shows no connection between helmet use and serious injury. In a review of questionnaires filled out by 3390 cyclist injured over a three year period, they determined that "Risk for serious injury was not affected by helmet use (OR=0.9)...[and]...neck injury was not affected by helmet use." Instead they determined that

Prevention of serious bicycle injuries cannot be accomplished through helmet use alone, and may require separation of cyclists from motor vehicles, and delaying cycling until children are developmentally ready.

Their other conclusions (looking at just the abstract, because I don't have access to the full article) include:

  • 51% of injured cyclists wore helmets at the time of crash.
  • Only 22.3% of patients had head injuries and 34% had facial injuries.
  • Risk of serious injury was increased by collision with a motor vehicle (duh), biking faster than >15 mph, young age (<6 years), and age >39 years.
  • Risk of neck injury was increased in those struck by motor vehicles, hospitalized for any injury, and those who died.

Montgomery County studies more protected bike lanes

Having installed it's first ever protected bike lane on Woodglen Avenue late last year, Montgomery County has continued to propose other locations for such facilities, including those that replace or connect to the Capital Crescent Trail. 

In October of 2014, MCDOT proposed a protected bike lane (or cycle track) on Woodmont Avenue.

The cycle track would stretch from the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue south toward Bethesda Row. Wolanin said engineers have determined they can take out the existing lane of curbside meter parking and put in the cycle track without much effect on vehicle congestion levels.

Cycletracks could also make up a large part off the surface route for the Capital Crescent Trail should the Purple Line be built, moving the trail out of the tunnel in Bethesda. 

image from www.bethesdanow.comthe “gold standard” concept would allow for a buffered, two-way cycle track along Willow Lane (just east of Wisconsin Avenue). The curbside meter parking spots would remain, but inside of the cycle track

One of the concepts includes a separate crosswalk for bicyclists across Wisconsin Avenue, a few feet north of the existing pedestrian crosswalk. One of the concepts includes a two-way cycle track along the north side of Bethesda Avenue, between Wisconsin Avenue and Woodmont Avenue.

Yet another concept would provide for buffered bike lanes on both sides of Woodmont Avenue south of Bethesda Avenue, meaning bicyclists using the trail would cross Wisconsin Avenue at Leland Street instead of Bethesda Avenue/Willow Lane.

Finally, in December Toole Design finished work on two conceptual designs for the Connecticut Avenue Cycletrack between Manor Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive. This would go a block north and south from the Capitol Crescent Trail, which would pass over Connecticut if/when the Purple Line is completed. 

image from www.bethesdanow.com

The preferred alternative would bring a 12-foot, two-way cycle track separated from Connecticut Avenue by a six-foot tree buffer and separated from the sidewalk by another six-foot tree buffer.

The constrained alternative would involve an 11-foot, two-way cycle track separated from Connecticut Avenue by a three-foot vegetation buffer and separated from the sidewalk by a six-foot tree buffer.

But those are only possible if the proposed Purple Line station there is redesigned. 

The plans also include a “Purple Line Very Constrained” scenario for both alternatives. Allowing for the space the Planning Department prefers would mean adjusting the design of the Purple Line station because of the bridge carrying the light rail set to go over Connecticut Avenue.

If that design remains as proposed, the cycle track under the bridge would have “minimal buffers,” only three feet from vehicle traffic on Connecticut Avenue and three-feet from the pedestrian sidewalk, divided by a fence.

Bike with lumen frame and wheel

The frame and wheels have a permanent reflector coating on them. This is a photo with flash. It's normally dark green.

Bike with lumen frame and wheel

Bump out bike parking

They pushed the sidewalk out midblock and put bike parking in. On Valencia street in San Francisco.

Bump out bike parking

Biking the Golden Gate


Biking the Golden Gate

Nice day for biking


Nice day for biking

Riverdale Park Station section of Trolley Trail hits a milestone

According to a construction update from earlier this month. 

Installation of the Hiker/Biker trail sub-base is complete. The installation of the retaining wall along the Northern property line will be completed by the end of April.

image from static1.squarespace.com

Bike trough at entrance


Bike trough at entrance

In station bike parking


In station bike parking

Bicycle priority area

On BART

Bicycle priority area

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