In a Star Tribune story earlier this week, Minneapolis Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Shaun Murphy was photographed on his bike, without a helmet. He told the reporter that he doesn’t always wear a helmet because he doesn’t want the activity to appear dangerous or scary. "I just want it to be seen as something that a normal person can do," said Murphy.
As you might imagine, comments posted online and letters to the editor took Murphy to task. After the story ran, Murphy was told by supervisors that he now has to wear a helmet on the job. But at least one Minnesota bike advocate is on Murphy’s side, presenting some counter-intuitive data that is stirring up controversy on two wheels.
That advocate would be me.
"The studies out there are irrefutable that wearing a helmet is safer than not wearing a helmet," said Bufton. "The cost is low and the return is high. We’re not militant on it and we’re not at the Legislature asking for mandatory helmet laws."
Bufton misses my point. The cost is low for an individual person but from an overall public health impact, we’re inadvertently paying a high price by such over-zealous promotion of helmet-wearing for casual biking.
Wigley is happy about that. Meanwhile, he will continue to ride his bike and wear a helmet, but he sure won’t tell you what to do.
Not quite. I no longer wear a helmet for around-town/casual biking. I do wear a helmet at all other times. And if you’re a public official, I will tell you what to do: for the sake of public health, set an example like me.
As the Daniel Hauser saga continues (MPR story today), it raises the question of when is it appropriate for the state to intervene in the treatment of a child’s illness. “… Colleen Hauser favors the natural healing methods of a religious group known as the Nemenhah Band, which is inspired by American Indian traditions.” Jon Tevlin wrote in this Strib column last week (and more here) that the family has likely been duped by an internet sham artist. I think that’s relevant and justifies intervention.
Ross, Tracy and I met Friday morning with Jon Tevlin, a reporter for the StarTribune. He contacted us last week, as the paper’s considering publishing a story on all the um, interesting things that have been happening at Northfield City Hall lately.
Since he’s been following the discussions here on Locally Grown, I suggested to him that we set up a private blog post/discussion thread where he could interact with interested citizens and community leaders as he works on the story. I suggested that it be private since most reporters don’t want to be scooped by the competition. He agreed, as did his Strib colleagues.
Here’s our current plan on how it’s going to work (we could change our minds):
I’ll start a new blog post, make it private, and hand out usernames and passwords to anyone who’s interested, with these qualifiers:
you’re a local, have met me, Ross or Tracy face-to-face at least once, and we think you’d be a good addition to the conversation
you’re not a member of a media organization that competes with the Strib
if you’re not local, Jon knows you and approves of your participation
you agree to not communicate (blogging, email, etc) with others about what’s being discussed
you agree to our usual Guidelines for participation, with the understanding that the purpose of doing this is to help Jon write his article.
If and when the story gets published, we’ll make the blog discussion thread public with Jon’s and the Strib’s permission.
So if you’re interested, attach a comment here. Don’t email me asking to be included. If you’re not willing to go public with your wanting to be included, you’re probably not a candidate for participation.
And if you have suggestions on how we might better run this, please speak up!