I was perusing reddit’s bicycle commuting community today and read assorted opinions about toe clips, clipless pedals and bare platforms. Having never used clipless I can’t speak for or against, but if there was less expense involved I might try ‘em. Needing large shoes (14 or 15) with a toe box to accommodate my arthritic big toes makes the whole process of finding something more troublesome than I think it is worth. Ordinary shoes cost a lot and are hard to find, so I doubt specialty shoes would make the task any easier.
I have used toe clips since very soon after purchasing my Schwinn High Sierra. The philosophy at the time was that you were able to pedal more efficiently and that your feet would be less likely to slip. I was much more interested in the latter than the former reason. I’d had just such a slip on one of my first rainy rides. Disaster had been avoided, but the potential was enough to push me to try metal toe clips or cages, as some people called them.
Initially, there is a powerful sense that you cannot get your feet free and that this is not good. Well . . . it’s not. And I nearly fell several times before I learned how to manage them. There was no one to advise me so I had to learn by trial and narrow escape that I felt safer with the clips very loose and feeling less restrained so emergency removal was unrestricted. Riding well requires that we develop some physical memory and the sense of being restrained does pass. It becomes second nature to slide your feet in and out of the clips and eventually you feel comfortable and safe with some snugness.
Solving the shoe problem, which is ancillary to using clips, hasn’t been too difficult since I discovered Skechers are common in sizes 14 and are often built on a last which provides sufficient toe space. From my point of viewing, there is no controversy.