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We miss key bike-safety factors when we focus only on helmets

It’s great that the Globe is calling attention to transportation safety (“Pedaling bike safety,” G section, Nov. 10). However, it is disappointing to see victims of roadway violence being portrayed as reckless or scofflaws who somehow bear all the responsibility for protecting themselves from motor vehicles.

While helmet promotion is a key element of the Boston Cyclists Union’s work, the largest threat to cyclists in Boston is not a reluctance to wear helmets. Rather, it is the poor, outdated roadway designs we have inherited and drivers who do not feel responsibility for protecting pedestrians or cyclists. Head injuries account for only 2.2 percent of all bike-related injuries in Boston emergency rooms, according to a recent study. By focusing on examples of cavalier bike messengers and headphone-wearing hipsters, Linda Matchan downplayed the fact that riding a bicycle has become a mainstream mode of transportation and a way to promote public health.

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Instead of concentrating on armoring people for impact, the Globe and the city would do best to help prevent the impact and clear the way for more people to get active. This could be done by collecting all the data we can from police, ambulance service, and emergency room records. This information could then be used to improve roadway design, guide legislation, and provide guidance for targeted education.

Pete Stidman

Executive director

Boston Cyclists Union

Jamaica Plain

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