A lot of skeptics and naysayers fight against the build-up of cycling infrastructure in our cities because they say it is a waste of funds that could be spend on more important infrastructure. I have had a conversation about this with many a friend, and have read blog posts, editorials, etc., about the subject. One of the favorite arguments I see being made against cycling infrastructure: “What about hospitals? You can’t carry a patient in critical need on a bicycle.”
There is a great deal of truth to that point, and until now I have simply accepted it as a practical truth. I would never promote cycling as more important as saving a life in need, which, until now has meant that we need roads and we need ambulances. But no longer is the realm of life-saving solely in the hands of automobiles and helicopters. There is a real-life example of bicycle paramedics in the UK: a fully functional unit of paramedics that ride bikes and still comply with governmental regulations for response times. While this may be old news to some, it is new to me – and provides a much-needed burst in excitement about bicycles being viable alternatives to automobiles.
I came across this story on the TreeHugger website. To me, it is a testament that there is wide-spread hope in the bicycle as a viable alternative to the automobile. While a bicycle paramedic cannot necessarily carry a patient to a hospital on a bike, they CAN respond to an emergency – often arriving sooner than an ambulance, especially in crowded metropolitan areas – and stabilize a patient until a larger transport vehicle can arrive on the scene.
Whether or not you think bicycle paramedics have a practical application in our cities, you have to admit: this is a pretty cool story and a hopeful day for cyclists.
[a more traditional journalistic story can be found on the BBC news website, where the image above was taken from.]