Riding a bicycle, especially one of the standard road bike or hipster fixie varieties, has been suspected for some time of causing erectile dysfunction and decreased sensation for men due to reduced blood flow in the nether regions. A new study, reported on by The New York Times, states that women might just suffer the same fate.
Road bikes and the fixed gear models popular with hipsters are usually ridden in a forward leaning manner for aerodynamic purposes. The problem is, a traditional bike seat, with its protruding nose, presses on the perineum and reduces blood flow to the genitalia. This results in reduced or no sexual function in a small percentage of men and reduced sensation in the outer genitalia for women. The problem is exacerbated in those who ride bikes extensively, such as bicycle cops and long distance riders.
In short: riding a bike may kill your sex life. And not just because of the unflattering spandex shorts.
Could this lead to a lawsuit? The reasonable alternative design theory is a legal theory that allows an injured party to recover on the basis that there was a feasible and reasonable alternative design that was safer for the consumer than the one used and that would have prevented the injury suffered by the person suing. Here, if noseless saddles or some other alternative advance far enough technologically that they become a feasible and safer alternative, then bike manufacturers may have to switch, add a warning label, or possibly risk being sued.
This theory was used to force auto manufacturers to adopt airbag designs and upgrade seatbelts when new and safer designs were made available in the 1990s.
As of now, the studies are new, the alternative seats are experimental and some relief can be had by adjusting the handlebars, so bicycle manufacturers are probably safe from litigation. However, should the studies be repeated and seat technology advanced, manufacturers are going to have to start putting warning labels on their bikes or switching to noseless saddles.
- Find a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Honda v. Norman, a Products Liability Lawsuit (FindLaw Case Law)
- The Cyclist's Tight Spot (Los Angeles Times)
- A Release Valve for Cyclists' Unrelenting Pressure (The New York Times)
- What is Product Liability? (FindLaw)