John Betmanis wrote, and I <snip>"
Anyway, when first nailing these shoe plates to my shoes, I too was afraid of not being able able to get my feet out in an emergency. However, my fears were mostly unfounded. Even with the straps quite tight, adrenalin always came to the rescue and I was able to get a foot out in time. Now, the deeper plastic cleats that were common in the 1980s were a little more difficult to get out of with the straps quite tight, but unless you cinch them up to the point where they are uncomfortable and cut off circulation, it's not impossible.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Well, I reckon that John's more quick-witted than I am. Picture me, 1963, first day with clips, cleats, and shoes, heading outbound on Wisconsin Ave, DC, a major thoroughfare. It is rush hour. I stop at the light. I fall down. Repeat at next light... Don't think it happened again until my last, never to be repeated, road ride with Cinelli M-71 Widowmakers a few years ago. Actually, the adrenalin rush that time was great enough that I ripped the cleat off the shoe.
I still ride my vintage bikes with clips&cleats for ceremonial occasions, but it sure is easier to start up the fixed gear with unmentionable pedals.