by Sgt. Joe Andruzzi
Chicago (IL) Police Department
On duty we wear bicycle helmets to keep our heads safe, bullet-resistant vests to keep our vital organs safe, and triple-retention holsters to keep our weapons safe. Off-duty, many of us work out, even though we ride bicycles at work, and we eat right to keep our bodies healthy. We do this because it is the smart, safe and healthy thing to do. So with all of this, why would any male bicycle officer resist the use of a noseless saddle to keep a very important part of his body healthy and safe?
In January 2006, male Chicago police officers assigned to bicycle patrol had an opportunity to take part in a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study. The purpose of the study was to examine the use of bicycle saddles as they relate to genital numbness and sexual dysfunction. Briefly stated, the study concluded that groin pressure from traditional (nosed) saddles was the primary contributor to sexual dysfunction experienced by bicycle officers.
As a study participant, I was required to remove the traditional nosed saddles from my department and personal bicycles and replace them with no-nose saddles. While study participants were offered a vast variety of no-nosed saddles to choose from, I chose the ISM Touring saddle. I’ll admit I did not have a “love at first sight” relationship with this saddle. I had even joined some of my fellow bicycle officers in ridiculing a couple of officers who rode with no-nose saddles long before this study was brought to my department. However, I now knew the risks associated with continued use of a nosed saddle, so I reluctantly installed the new seat.
The first time I rode with this saddle, I realized how much I had relied on the nose of my traditional saddle to help slowly maneuver my bicycle through congested traffic. I was never aware of how much I had used my inner thighs to help control and balance the bicycle. After just a few hours on the noseless saddle, I was ready to get rid of it and accept the health risks associated with traditional nosed saddles. But still wanting to truly gauge the saddle, I grudgingly rode on. After that first day, my lower buttocks were very sore.
Nevertheless, I stuck it out, and after about a week I had grown accustomed to the saddle. At the same time, my balance and maneuvering on the bicycle dramatically improved. To test my riding ability with the new seat, I put myself through the various cone courses the department uses for bicycle training along with other riding drills. I was able to successfully complete each one.
Nearly two years later, I am still riding with the same saddle and consider myself a better rider for it. I believe the switch to a no-nose saddle is so important that I’ve lobbied my department for funding to equip our fleet of more than 450 bicycles with no-nose saddles. In addition, all newly purchased bicycles must come equipped with no-nose saddles.
I realize reading a short article won’t change the minds of those who vehemently oppose switching to a no-nose saddle for reasons ranging from ignorance to obstinacy. However, I encourage any officers who are concerned about their reproductive health to try a no-nose saddle. If you do, be patient. Your body needs time to adjust. Just know that if you make the switch, your penis will thank you for it.
For detailed information about the NIOSH studies and published results, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/bike/.
Sgt. Joe Andruzzi has been the commanding officer of the Chicago Police Department’s Bicycle Patrol Unit since March 1999. He oversees a fleet of more than 450 bicycles and trains 100-200 officers yearly for bike patrol. He can be reached at Joseph.Andruzzi@chicagopolice.org.
For a list of where to find no-nose (noseless) saddles of various brands, visit www.healthycycling.org.
Cutting off the Nose to Save the Penis, by Schrader, Steven M.; Breitenstein, Michael J.; Lowe, Brian D. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 5, Number 8, August 2008 , pp. 1932-1940(9).
Full text available from Steve Schrader, 513-533-8210 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the following links:
© 2009 IPMBA. This article appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of IPMBA News.