Should mens' bikes with crossbars be banned?

cyclists in copenhagen
CC BY 2.0 Cyclists in Copenhagen/ Lloyd Alter

A Dutch safety organization says they are more dangerous, particularly for older riders.

Many have extolled the virtues of Dutch style bikes, with their “sit up” style. James Schwartz once described their virtues: “If I were to describe a typical Dutch-style bicycle with a few adjectives, I would say they are sturdy, comfortable, low maintenance, practical, pragmatic, stylish and heavy.” Apparently there is another reason to love them: they are apparently much safer than men’s bikes with top tubes or crossbars. Now a Dutch foundation, Veilig Verkeer Nederland (VNN) and TeamAlert, wants to ban men’s bikes with crossbars.

VVN claims that, based on a Swedish study, women’s bikes are safer because cyclists assume a better posture while riding women’s bikes and they have a lesser chance of getting a serious head injury when they are involved in traffic accidents. Other reasons given by VVN to ban men’s bikes in traffic are “dads giving their kid a ride with their bike” because this “may cause the child to fall off the bike or the bike to fall over as the dad takes a seat.”

According to Dutch News, bikes without crossbars are much better for older people.

‘As people get older getting on and off the bike isn’t as easy. It’s the moment when most accidents occur, especially on e-bikes, and the consequences of a fall can be very serious for older people,’ VNN spokesperson José de Jong says.

Cycling organization Fietsbond says “the terms men’s bikes and women’s bikes are outdated” and that “gender-neutral bikes are the future we should be focusing on.”

NYC Bike Sharing© Citibike

They have a point; nobody complains about Citibikes and other shared bikes being gender-neutral. In fact there is no reason to bring gender into it at all; racing bikes, where every ounce matters, have cross bars because the triangle is the most efficient structural form, and women racers have them. But in the city, a few ounces don’t matter all that much. It’s a design and safety issue, not a gender issue, when it comes right down to it. And thanks to the bike share systems, I don’t think any male rider is actually embarrassed by riding a bike without a top tube.

I am always nervous about bans when it comes to biking, given how there is so much pressure to ban riding without helmets and no doubt soon bans for riding without high viz vests. But it's interesting that a bike safety organization in the Netherlands, of all places, would suggest that bikes with top tubes (or crossbars) be banned. What do you think?


Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Bikes | Biking | Netherlands

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