Ed McLaughlin writes a letter to the editor

For those of you who were around in 2007, you might remember cyclist Ed McLaughlin. This “Bike King” from Chico, California was car free from 1982 to 2007. He found the Chico Velo cycling club. Largely through his efforts, his town was listed at the #1 bicycling community by Bicycling magazine in 1997.

Ed now rides around in a van. The reason? He hit one of those insanely dangerous bollards at a path entrance and crashed in December 2007. In spite of his helmet use, he’s now paralyzed for life, but he remains active in local cycling advocacy.

For example, when somebody wrote to the Chico Enterprise-Record advocating for mandatory helmet use for all California cyclists, Ed McLaughlin wrote his response.

In his letter to the E-R Sunday, Alex Buchmiller militates for mandatory helmet use by bicyclists.

Bicyclists seem to be an easy group to pick on. The last time such legislation was offered in Sacramento it went nowhere. It shouldn’t have gotten that far.

Buchmiller trots out some scary statistics on fatalities, injuries and medical costs. I was wearing a helmet when I crashed and got a spinal cord injury and lifetime paralysis. Believe me, I’ve contributed plenty to California’s medical economy.

One helmet-wearing friend crashed on a group ride a few months back, suffering a severe concussion, resulting in weeks at Enloe, induced coma, surgically opened skull to relieve brain swelling and who knows how much rehab.

Cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam enjoy very high bicycle ridership, next to zero helmet use and extremely low incidence of head injury. Go figure.

If Buchmiller really wants to lower the number of head injuries he should propose mandatory NASCAR-rated helmets for all motor vehicle occupants. Last time I called the neurosurgeon’s office, cars were much more dangerous than bicycles. Find a legislator to carry that bill.

(Via Bello Velo.)

On the other hand, there’s this.


  1. I can recall that twenty years or so ago Bicycling called Chico the best place to ride a bike in America, which was mentioned in an recruitment brochure for my former employer. I lived there for four years and only rode to work a couple of times as my employer actively discouraged it as being “too hazardous.” I do still have my Tour de Ed shirt, though…

  2. They actually have a map of Durham-Pentz road showing little graveyard crosses where traffic fatalities have occurred…
    Dig around in the Chico ER archives to find the bit about the Tour De Ed where they bitch about his pontiff's outfit – hilarious!
    To be fair, riding up Honey Run was pretty sweet after they put in the Steve Harrison Memorial Bike path…

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