30 January 2010

Slip Sliding Away


I must be getting old. After laughing at the first few topples I wondered why the chap filming didn't get his ass down there with some sand or salt and remove the slippery spot or call the city and have them hurry out to solve it. Then I laughed some more.

I've been putting my foot down a great deal in the slip-sliding snow this week. The tempo has gone down on the bike lanes, especially today after 15 cm of snow last night, but everyone is taking it easy. When you've been cycling virtually every day of your life, like most Danes and Dutch, you're used to challenges like this.

Sad how so many fearmongerers use accident statistics to whip up a whirlwind. They only present the number of emergency ward visits but hardly ever report that the vast majority of injuries are minor and most of the people either cycled away from the hospital or were back on their bicycles the next day after spraining a wrist or ankle or bumping their tailbone or head.

Even here in Denmark these Number of Admissions stats are readily used by many adherants to a societal Culture of Fear development. They often state in indignant tones that the number of cycling injuries that GO UNREPORTED are massive. As though those subversive people who are injured and don't report it are somehow conspiring against them and the system.

A day later you'll hear how the emergency wards are often overrun by people who don't actually need any treatment and how these people are costing society outrageous amounts of money. Stay away from the hospital unless you're REALLY hurt! Unless you're a cyclist, of course. By staying away you are working against the Goal of Portraying Cycling as Extremely Dangerous [and subsequently affecting car sales].

A propos nothing, the emergency ward at the hospital across the street from here has bike racks for about 40 bikes.

Vaguely related: Cycling nurses help thwart hospitalisation.

14 comments:

TFC said...

You might suggest that folks consider studded tires. They work quite well on dry pavement and ice:

http://www.suomityres.com/winter.html

Kiwehtin said...

I was thinking along the same lines before I actually read the rest of the blog. Just look at all those idiot helmetless Dutch! Just think of the costs they are imposing on Dutch society: imagine the taxpayer's money it took to clean up all those brains all over the pavement! It's just common sense that when you fall, you land on your HEAD, and since our heads are as we all know constructed like eggshells, your head will smash open and all the yolk-brains inside are going to spill out all over the pavement.

Actually, for TFC:

I think this is one of the probably rare cases where the Dutch authorities could pay more attention to cycling infrastructure. For one, the curve ought to be less sharp (do they have ANY 90 degree turns on motor roads, except for intersections?) For another thing, any turns like this, where they DO exist, should either have a rougher surface for better grip in icy or rainy conditions (paving bricks are certainly not in short supply in the Netherlands) or be gritted when icy weather comes along.

Ryan said...

So far this is one of the first winters where ice hasn't got the better of me. I'm just much more careful on taking turns and corners after falling twice on my driveway and twice at the same spot in a parking lot last year.

Of course I probably just jinxed myself and the next time I'm out I'll go flying.

Kim said...

I think there is a lesson here for the helmeted fearmongerers. Here we have an unusually large numbers cycle accidents, but how many suffer any form head injury? From the way they all get up and carry on it looks like none. The simple truth is cycling isn't actually dangerous than walking.

Had these been pedestrians would you now be demanding laws for walking helmets??

kfg said...

OK, because of the sound effects it made me giggle; except for the face plants which were cringe worthy. The butt plants were nicely done. If you're going to fall off, that's how to do it. Then the "If it saves one bruise it's worth it" yobs can start worrying about mandating Omas and armored butt cups.

A couple of the people, however, managed to illustrate why I ride a low step through as a winter bike.

When it all goes wrong you - step through. The bike falls but you don't. The trick is to step through at the rate of travel. A couple of the other people manage to illustrate why this is important.

Now I'm going to go watch it again. I could use another giggle.

Lou said...

I was wondering why no one seems to be using studded tires. I think they are a godsend.

I have some Nokian Hakkapeliittas. I was riding home from work after some freezing rain. Cars were slipping and sliding, but I was fine. I did almost fall once, that is at a stop light. I put my foot down and it slipped on the ice. The tires held tremendously.

Are studded tires uncommon in Copenhagen?

Kiwehtin said...

For Lou:

Coastal North European areas don't generally get heavy snowfalls and ice the same way continental North American climates tend to in winter, so probably studded tires aren't something that come to mind in the same way as they would in places with heavy winters. Of course, Mikael would know better than I do...

BTW this clip was made in Lelystad, in the north of the Netherlands.

Oldfool said...

All I can say is falling is not funny especially if you have ever cracked a bone or if your child has or if someone you love cracked a hip and died of complications.

Glenn Trimble said...

We're Climate Of Fear Central here in Australia, and the old "vast number of unreported accidents" tip-of-the-iceberg argument is becoming increasingly common in journalism and politics. Just because only a few people report to hospitals with cycling/scooting/football/skateboarding etc etc injuries, doesn't mean that not many people get hurt, it just means that there are vast numbers of unreported accidents.

Trolly said...

I think there is a lesson here for the helmeted fearmongerers. Here we have an unusually large numbers cycle accidents, but how many suffer any form head injury? From the way they all get up and carry on it looks like none. The simple truth is cycling isn't actually dangerous than walking.

Gotta love that hard science...

John Romeo Alpha said...

That needs a different soundtrack to add grace and tragedy. Mute that one in one windows, and play Beethoven Moonlight Sonata in another window while you watch. Completely different experience for me, causing me to notice the skill of most of the riders handling the difficult situation, as well as making me think more about their pain in hitting the hard, cold ground. Here's the Beethoven I used:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3muJxOjS5M

Anonymous said...

I was kinda hoping to see someone drift through the corner foot down like Joe Breeze on Repack..... They were all more elegant than my last encounter with ice. I went down as if poleaxed and slid about 3 metres finally stopping facing in the direction I had been coming from.

Just a cyclist said...

Gotta love that hard science...

Usually though, the more hard-headed you are, the softer the science you require (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

I grimaced at every fall, especially the awkward plops where you go one way and the bike handlebars twist around as if to gore you.

Luckily, the winter clothing helps to protect the rider.