Friday, June 16, 2006

Need education, not laws

The Austin City Council may broaden the current bicycle helmet law, requiring all adult cyclists to wear helmets while riding. If passed, people on bicycles would wear helmets, but people on motorcycles would still be helmetless. This makes no sense to me, especially after what happened this week to Ben Roethlisberger.

I am a novice rider and enjoy my rides. So far my rides are short (the route is 7.5 miles) and slow (average speed is 8 mph) and on a hike/bike path. Chances are that I won't get anything more than a scraped elbow, but I do wear my helmet. Even when I was test-driving my new bike in the parking lot of the bike store, the folks at Buck's Bikes had me wearing a helmet.

I think cyclists should wear helmets, but I think we should get people to wear them through education, not through laws. Most of the serious cyclists wear helmets; you never see anyone on 360 or 2222 without helmets. It's the novice riders like myself who don't wear helmets. We should be encouraging folks to ride more, not punishing them when they do.

9 comments:

Mike said...

Bruce Todd is a jerk - he's done more against cycling and against Austin than most people short of Gary Bradley, and he's wrong this time too. Bike helmets showed great promise in early case-control studies (that's where the 85-90% reduction in head injuries figure comes from) but zero benefit in actual use in the population. But we sure get a lot of charming anectdotes about how people are sure they'd be dead since their little piece of plastic got a dent!

Nacho Libre said...

I wear a helmet. If you wanna wear a helmet you're gonna have to get your own. If you don't want to wear a helmet we're cool.

MWaPG said...

Mike you are a jerk.

Against Austin and Against Cycling are not mutually inclusive. Contrary to the beliefs of most Austin Cyclists, you are a minority not a majority.

Please do not wear your helmet though, that will be the beauty of Darwinism.

Mike said...

"mwapg", you manly anonymous coward, you, I meant those to be separate topics, i.e. "against cycling" AND "against Austin". The latter refers to Circle C and Gary Bradley-related shenanigans.

sam said...

First of all, Mike, I fail to see how promoting something that will keep people safe makes someone a jerk. Secondly, I can't believe how ignorant people can be! We're talking about a really basic concept here, people. You're not invincible. You too can fall and you too will hurt your head. So wear a helmet. That's all. It's really pretty simple: if cyclists want the same respect as cars on the roadways and get amenities from the city such as bike lanes then they have to take responsibility and put a helmet on! Just like wearing a seat belt. We don't want to pay your medical bill when your uninsured brain ends up permanently damaged.

Are you all afraid it will mess up your hair?

sam said...

Furthermore, Doug & Dara, bicycle helmet legislation happens on a city level and motorcycle helmet legistlation happens on a state level. Passing a bicycle helmet law in Austin has nothing to do with motorcycle helmet laws in the state of Texas. Austin City Council can only do its part by making bicycle helmets mandatory. It's up to our state leaders to work on the motorcycle helmets and I sincerely hope they reinstate that helmet law too.

Anonymous said...

I drive a pedicab downtown , and I can't TELL you what this would do to my business if my passengers are forced to wear a helmet. What am I gonna do, keep a couple of dirty 'ol universally fitting helmets for tourists and nightclubbers to don? First the city injures the nightclubs with the smoking ban , now this ....gosh , I guess a year ago this place musta been like dodge city, for christs sakes, people smoking in the bars, ridin those pedicabs with brazenly unprotected heads...ah the good ol days....

D'Amico said...

Go to http://www.nohelmetlaw.org for the scoop.

1) Todd may not be a jerk for proposing this. But I do have to say that's he's been making some pretty absurd observations. He said last night that we (League of Bicycling Voters, the main group opposing the ordinance) ought to be ashamed of ourselves for mocking helmets. Actually we spent most of last night at the Rally/Helmet Fashion show promoting helmets and proper use...while still opposing the law.

2) this whole deal about paying for bicyclist injuries is absurd. The costs to taxpayers for auto injuries is astronomical compared to bicycling. Yes, I know we require seatbelts and airbags now. Yes, I know there's a lot more car drivers. But in terms of pure costs, it's still a burden taxpayers have to pay. Why not mandate health insurance for auto drivers...whoops, that opens a can of worms.

3) COA could pass a helmet ordinance for motorcyclists if they really wanted to, even though it is state regulated. It could be problematic, but it could be done. Not to mention the city could always have a local legislator sponsor legislation allowing cities to regulate motocycle helmets.

Karen Bellweather said...

What's this insatiable desire to regulate the personal lives of others?

Keep the Austin Police fighting crime. Is this really an appropriate new duty to place upon them?

Bruce is a tired old politician looking to recapture his name.