Plastered Pedalling: How not to get home this St. Patrick’s Day

Photo by Meagan Crump

Don't Drink and Bike this St. Patrick's Day

Story by Jonah Brunet

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching and, after decades of campaigns against driving under the influence, we thought it might be time to remind our dandy readers to walk it or lock it if  you've had too much to drink. While many claim, reasonably enough, that cycling drunk is safer than driving drunk we still want you to arrive alive.

Though not as reprehensible as drunk driving, drunk cycling is still irresponsible. Cycling requires more balance and coordination than driving—things drunk people don’t tend to possess. And, due to a significant lack of protection compared to a 2,000 kg metal box, drunk cyclists arguably pose an even greater threat to themselves. In fact, according to the New York Times, a report by the state’s Department of Health found that over 20 per cent of cyclists killed on the road between 1995 and 2005 had alcohol in their blood.

Part of the reason drunk cycling is so uncritically embraced could have to do with its legality. The impairment section of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act applies only to motor vehicles, according to a Toronto Star interview with the Toronto police, and so it would seem that the most an intoxicated cyclist could be charged with is being drunk in public—and only if so plainly bombed that an officer feels the need to pull him or her over. The U.S. has stricter laws against pedalling under the influence. (Also note, if you are looking for advice on plastered pedalling, you will NOT find it on the Drunk Cyclist website.)

Of course plenty of things remain legal that people still shouldn’t do and, despite the low legal risks, biking under the influence remains a risky way to get home. With its endless flow of green beer, St. Patrick’s Day may not be the holiday known for the intelligence of its celebrants—but there’s no reason it has to be deadly. And, after all, walking a bike down the sidewalk is a great way to stay upright while stumbling blurrily home from the pub. And, as the spring approaches, remember, there will be lots of opportunities to ride again in the sobering sunshine.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

Super Spin: a video

Wheels on fire: firefighters like bikes, promote safety

Best of Bike Spotting: Safety in focus

Lock 'n' Roll: safety is sexy in dandyhorse issue #10

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2 responses to “Plastered Pedalling: How not to get home this St. Patrick’s Day”

  1. paulc says:

    “a report by the state’s Department of Health found that over 20 per cent of cyclists killed on the road between 1995 and 2005 had alcohol in their blood.”

    yes, that may be so, but were they over the limit?

    • jonah says:

      That’s difficult to know, as the 20 per cent figure comes from autopsy results many hours after the cyclists’ deaths, and alcohol is metabolised by everyone at different rates. I agree that it would be an important detail to note. However, here in Ontario, there are no legal limits for alcohol when riding a bike.

      That being said, as Wiley Norvell states in the Times article linked above, it’s important to refrain from looking at this stat in terms of victim-blaming and remember that, after all, 92 per cent of bicycle fatalities in NY between 1995 and 2005 involved a motor vehicle (whose driver was likely unharmed).

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