Friday, November 6, 2009

The "Safety Bicycle" - Why it's good for you

I've been riding a "road bike" for a while now. It's awesome - really fast & easy to steer, although I always wear my helmet as I'm terrified of hitting some unforeseen obstacle (pothole, cat, whatever), and careening head first over my handle bars.

Turns out, my cruiser bike is actually a much safer design, and the reason why I don't feel as at-risk of head trauma as I do on my road bike. I found a post on one of my favorite blogs (Copenhagen "Cycle Chic") that was all about this phenomenon of the "Safety Bike". It's a simple design, and the most used type of bicycle in the world. Here's an excerpt from the post:

Why is the upright bicycle safe? First of all, have a look at the two girls in the photo at the top. Look at their posture. Not only pleasing their mothers, it is elegant. But more than that, this upright posture means that their center of gravity is in much the same spot as it is when they are walking. Homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years and prior to that, other upright-walking species have spent around 2 million years evolving this all-important centre of gravity to near-perfection. In other words, our center of gravity is quite handy in helping us get around. In addition, it is something that we use every single day in almost every move we make. We're quite good at using it.

Compare this to the riding position on, for example, racing bikes. The upper body is pitched forward, which causes the center of gravity to shift. In this position the point is dangling in mid-air somewhere over the crossbar. Just think about braking sharply. Your body must battle to keep the weight of your upper body from chucking you forward, which is unnatural for homo sapiens. In an upright position, your body knows how to readjust itself for this sudden stopping motion, much like when you stop suddenly when walking or jogging.

The racing position is great for people who... well... race or who like to go fast. Works perfectly for them, which is super. If you look at established bicycle cultures, the majority of people don't wish to adhere to this way of riding, preferring to merely use the bicycle as a quick and easy tool for getting around and wearing the clothes they have in the closets to do so. Not surprisingly, the upright bicycle is more often than not their vehicle of choice.

There's much more about why these bikes are rockin', so if you want to read up more on it, be sure & check out the blog (I adore all of the photos on it - they're lovely all on their own)! I'll always adore my hand-me-down Raleigh road bike (thank you, Amber!), but now I just love my Raleigh Robin Hood Cruiser even more. Thanks for keepin' my noggin safe, buddy.

(photo courtesy of

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