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December 15, 2005

Port Townsend Bike Helmet Law a concern to Washington Cyclist

A Letter to the Edtor, in The Port Townsend Leader, expresses concern over the new Bike Helmet in that city:

As a bicyclist, Port Townsend’s new helmet law truly disturbs me. I believe there is a limit to the level of control a town should have over citizens who are harming no one.

This law infringes on an individual’s freedom to make decisions concerning personal well-being until the courts find him incapable. You cannot even compare the risk a motorcyclist faces at 60 mph.

Riding defensively is the only thing that gives a bicyclist security, and practically all of Port Townsend’s serious cyclists wear helmets already because they ride at higher speeds. But on the other hand, all the shipwrights in the boat haven use a bike to run between jobs, and they will never go to the hassle of finding and putting on a helmet to ride a block.

They’d sooner drive their pickups.

Apparently if you are caught without a helmet you will be ticketed.

The writer believes fewer people will run simple errands on their bikes because of this.

Lack of exercise poses a much graver health risk, so maybe we could also legislate mandatory workouts like in Maoist China. Don’t laugh, it’s the same overzealous tendency to control; a helmet law would have been unthinkable 30 years ago.

More than anything, the issue of enforcement disturbs me. It’s easy to create a new law if you don’t have to enforce it. I would like to see the City Council required to go out and slap bicyclists with tickets.

Isn’t the police force busy enough with serious crimes such as the theft of personal property? I have had three bicycles stolen over the years. When I reported them, I filled out a form which I’m sure was duly registered but otherwise ignored because of administrative priorities.

Today isn't 30 years ago.

Today bicycle safety is a huge concern, and one of the most important things you can do, even on an "errand" run, is wear a helmet.

But now our overworked police force has one more job: baby-sitting PT’s citizens to save them from brain damage. And now when I ride down to the store I will have to watch out for the police.

This is not what I live in PT for, and I hope other people will join me in demanding the repeal of this unnecessary law.

If a State Law was on the books would he feel the same way?

Brain Damage is a serious consequence of not wearing a helmet, and some folks are just too caught up in feeling the wind in their hair to give this the serious consideration it deserves.

Port Townsend Leader ( 11/16 ): New Bike Helmet Law disturbing by Charles Espey.

December 15, 2005 in The Well Read Cyclist | Permalink


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Helmets are for dangerous activities, like downhill and even competitive road race cycling. Cycling around a boatyard is not dangerous, period. You're more likely to receive a serious head injury in an hour of playing basketball than you are in an hour of cycling. For that matter, you're more likely to receive a serious head injury sitting in a car than you are riding the bike down the road.

If you believe "brain damage is a serious consequence of not wearing a helmet" do you advocate helmet use for basketball players and car passengers? It's a ridiculous picture, isn't it? That's how I feel about mandatory helmet use for cyclists -- it's a ridiculous picture with no bearing in reality.

Posted by: Fritz | Dec 15, 2005 10:48:12 PM

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