Until now, when it comes to forcing everyone to wear foam bicycling hats, one nation has stood tall and stood alone:
Well, not alone exactly, they also had their version of Canada to keep them company:
Of course, since implementing this sagacious legislation, both Australia and New Zealand have become paradigms of bicycling for transportation, while the helmetless masses in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark have long since abandoned the bicycle in favor of safer and more practical conveyances:
I was totally joking when I wrote that last bit, but then I found that video and apparently the Dutch do like our pickup trucks, go figure.
In any case, now a third nation proudly rises to permanently don its polystyrene dunce cap:
However, unlike Australia, where they’re almost as enthusiastic about bicycle enforcement as they are about annoying cutesy slang terms, Japan is merely making helmet-wearing a “duty of effort,” which sounds like something you can basically ignore, like when people tell you to “Stay safe!,” or your dental hygienist tells you to floss better:
Apparently Japan has a rich history of making dumb but toothless bicycle laws that people with common sense cannily disregard:
Banning people from carrying two kids on a bike makes about as much sense as banning them from doing so in a car or on a subway train. If anything, it’s far more dangerous to carry multiple kids by car, since they become exponentially more irritating and distracting, and yet it’s just as easy for the driver to speed. Meanwhile, the more kids you’re carrying on a bike the safer you are, since it becomes increasingly difficult to pedal with each one, and after strapping the fifth or sixth kid to the bike you’re usually going to end up walking it anyway–or you’re going to run out of duct tape, whichever comes first.
Unfortunately though it sounds like the Japanese are also inveterate salmoners:
Though even that’s arguably defensible since riding and driving on the left side of the road is against the laws of physics and nature.
Speaking of places that aren’t the United States, things aren’t going too well in Portland:
There was once a time when Portland was “North America’s bicycling capital” and people with an aversion to working and showering were even forming religions around it:
But now the only place where people still talk about Portland is Portland, and since 2014 fewer and fewer people are commuting by bike:
While more are commuting by car:
So why is that? Well, one theory is that fewer people are riding and more people are driving because fewer people are riding and more people are driving:
Another theory is that rich people are moving in and don’t know that bicycles exist:
I dunno, seems to me there have always been plenty of well-off bike-riding douchebags in Portland…though Rapha’s North American headquarters did move from Portland to Bentonville a few years ago, so that could explain the drastic reduction in their numbers.
Or maybe it’s just that the bike lanes are full of feces:
This is anecdotal to be sure, but I certainly wouldn’t overlook it as a root cause–especially if the feces is human, which, this being Portland, it almost certainly is.
Meanwhile, here in New York City our advocates more rarefied things to complain about–like the people maintaining our massive bike share system:
He’s not really “forcing” you to do anything. I hate it when people say “Just go around,” but, like, he’s servicing the Citi Bikes, so…maybe just go around? You can always dismount and use the sidewalk if you feel like cautiously venturing into the street for five seconds is certain death.
By the way, this is the same advocate who was recently rear-ended by a Fred:
And whose subsequent Twitter rant became fodder for this doofus I mentioned in my latest Outside column:
With advocates like these, who needs enemies?