Old 06-03-05, 08:04 AM
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Before you apply the label "Nazi" to any person you disagree with (a practice begun by Rush Limbaugh "the thinking man's thinker") read up on the REAL Nazi's. The Nazi's of the Hitler era murdered millions of children, and launched wars that resulted in the death of over 100 million children from violence, hunger and disease.

Comparing Hitler's Nazi's to people working to make bikes safer for children is outrageously insulting and astoundingly ignorant. Take a few hours to examine children's bikes at Wal-Mart and K-Mart. Many of those bikes will be purchased by adults who have no training and experience on safely assembling a bike. The US government has some (rather weak) regulations that are intended to "guarantee" that a bike leaves the store in a condition that is safe for children.

In the "real" world, the bikes sold at Wal-Mart for children include many that have brakes that do not work when the rims are wet, handlebars that bend under stress, "stylish" features that will impale a child's body during a "crash", and many other hazards to children's health.

Government agencies seeking to make bikes safer, especially bikes sold for use by small children, need the help of experienced cyclists. Those of us who ride every day can look at a bike, and see its weaknesses and its dangerous features more quickly than an engineer who never rides a bike. And, we know how kids ride bikes in the "real world, where "curbs" are not barriers, but are "ramps" where nine year old boys launch their bikes into the street.

The government should hire my nine year old nephew as a "safety consultant". His Giant Modem BMX bike has taken more abuse than any five of my road bikes combined. But, Giant is a responsible corporation. After all of the pounding that Modem has taken, its frame and wheels are as straight and true as on the day the bike left the store. And, my nephew has never had more than a few scrapes and bruises when he has crashed his bike. (Luckily, he loves wearing a helmet that covers his entire head).

A fifty dollar Wal-Mart bike? A Wal-Crap bike would have lasted maybe two days under the same riding conditions. And, when its handlebar broke, or the frame snapped, or the brakes failed, or a rim collapsed, my nephew would likely have been on his way to a hospital.

Two friends of mine are doctors who work in emergency rooms with injured children. When they see a young boy come in with a broken arm, or broken nose, or similar injuries, they know the cause: a Wal-Crap bike has failed again. Instead of attacking folks who are pushing for safer bikes for children, we ought to be encouraging them, and sharing with them our experience and expertise.
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