I took a ride by Metrorail and bus yesterday, and was gratified to see more bicycles than I used to at the train stations, along the streets we passed and especially on Howard Drive near The Falls. Every one of the cyclists, however, was doing something unsafe.
Of the nine or 10 riders I saw in 40 minutes, only two wore helmets -- and while their machines and gear suggested they were devoted cyclists they rode opposite to traffic on the sidewalk along Howard Drive. I can't blame anyone for riding that sidewalk, given how fast the traffic is on Howard (SW 136th Street). But riding opposite the traffic flow exposes a cyclist to double risk at every driveway and intersection he crosses.
Three bareheaded cyclists overtook and passed me as I walked along Howard Drive, and none troubled to call out to warn that they were coming. I don't think these bikes had lights or bells, either -- though in fairness it was broad daylight and I have no idea whether the owners ride at night.
OK, so none of us want to be busybodies. But at least be sure we ride correctly, and be sure we explain to family and friends that a human skull is no match for concrete if we take a spill, that lights overcome the deficiencies of bicycle reflectors, and that where we ride really makes a difference in how safe we are.
P.S. Here's a kid over on the west coast who was saved by his helmet. Scroll down to the January 30 item to read.