Helmets to be required in Seattle

The days of choice are over. Helmets are gonna be required in the Emerald City.

Here’s the story:
<http://tinyurl.com/hfii>

I wonder if that applies to the waterfront pedicabs?

I haven’t checked Washington state law, but you might be able to get out of wearing a helmet if a unicycle doesn’t fit the legal definition of a bicycle. I still think it’s safer to wear a helmet.

I hate to see that Big Brother kinda stuff…
Wasn’t Seattle where they were giving kids $ if they caught them wearing a helmet?

Re: Helmets to be required in Seattle

Yes, but here’s the definition of a bicycle in the Seattle Municipal Code:

And the definition of bicycle in the Washington state law:

Unless they change the definition of a bicycle or get more specific about the types of vehicles that they want covered in the helmet law, the helmet law isn’t going to apply to us.

I wonder if we’ll see some of the folks who don’t want to wear a helmet switch over to unicycling instead of bicycling to avoid the helmet law. :slight_smile:

edit: spelling error

Oh! that would be hilarious. :slight_smile:
Those pedal cab things do fit the definition of a bicycle.

The resolution adopts the “King County Bicycle Helmet Regulations” in the King County Board of Health Code. Part of it can be found starting on page 9 of this document.

I can’t find the actual Board of Health Code yet but the document mentions a bicycle or any other cycle not powered by a motor. There is also mention that tricycles are excluded. I wonder how the King County Board of Health Code compares to the RCW.

Oh well, I guess I’ll have to stop taking my helmet off when I cross from King County to the City of Seattle. :roll_eyes:

Hmmm. If the authorities think the voters need to be told when and how to protect their brains, they must think the people who voted them in are stupid.

I usually wear a helmet. When I don’t it’s a deliberate decision based on an assessment and acceptance of the risk. As a liberal, I don’t like compulsion in place of choice. Thing is, though, they can enforce helmet wearing; they can’t enforce safe and considerate driving - they can only penalise bad driving after the event.

Actually we have a seat belt law here: “Click it, or ticket!” Some local judges think it is unconstitutional because it only applies to vehicles which have seat belts, and you can’t tell just by looking at the vehicle…

If you read the article, you will find that you only need to buy a helmet after you get ticketed, just buy the helmet and then show the receipt to the judge: ticket dismissed.

I always wear my helmets (uni, bike, and motor) and have used seat belts since the 50`s, but I don’t believe that there is anything the US constitution says that the government can require us to do something that doesn’t protect others from what we do (pursuit of happiness). Minors are a different story, they, by definition, don’t have the knowledge to make the decision. We might find ourselves being required to have beds that are no taller than 3 inches or that we have to wear shoes at all times or to be within the (currently) acceptable weight for our height. I can think of thousands of things that people do (or not do) that could be considered not totally “safe” (as if anything is totally safe), and therefore should be prohibited or required.

While wearing helmets on a bicycle is still not proven to be effective at reducing deaths, the current statics seem to say that;

  • If you ride a bicycle, you will live 20 (twenty) years longer and have a better life.
  • Riding a bicycle without a helmet will subtract 1 year.
  • 60% of the people that ride will stop riding if helmets are required.
I read this to mean that if a helmet law is passed, 60% of the people that currently ride bicycles will die 19 years sooner and have less healthfull lives.

My condolences to 60% of the people of Seattle.

I believe that the fact that I am the type of person that will wear a helmet means that I am less reckless or more careful than the type that will not, this may be why I am safer, not the fact that I have a helmet on. You can’t legislate common sense

Obsessive-compulsive paranoids unite! You have nothing to lose but your low paying job, become a safety expert. All you must do is walk around saying “That’s not safe.” You don’t need to have a reasonable alternative, either.
Sorry, I’ve seen to many “Safety” experts require $5000 worth of “safety” to protect me from $.05 worth of danger. Espically when they don’t have my job experience.

From the article:

“Courts will dismiss tickets for offenders who show proof that they have purchased helmets.”

“The spirit of the regulation is to encourage education about helmet protection rather than writing tickets and collecting fines,”

To me it’s only Big Brother if taxpayers are unaffected by people not wearing helmets. But if a person is severly injured, such that they must live on disability and/or social security, guess who pays?

Helmets are like seat belts in cars. They may be a hassle, but they work. More from the article:

"• Three of the five children killed in bike accidents from July 1998 through April 2002 likely would have survived if they had been wearing helmets, health officials say.

"• Health officials estimate $10 million would be saved annually in direct and indirect costs (such as health care and lost wages) if every cyclist wore a helmet. "

The first bullet is of course talking just about the area affected by the new law.

People need to be told. Who says people aren’t stupid? Not I. As a group, “people” are only smart when they make the conscious effort to think. Example: I can’t speak for UK politics, but look at some of the people “we” elected in the US? :slight_smile:

Using seat belts as an example, the “health benefit” is obvious. Though many people are unaware, the evidence is overwhelming. Without it, seat belt legislation would not be so widespread. Seat belts are right there in your car, if your car was built since the early 1960s or so in the US, and probably any new car in all the industrialized countries of the world. But people don’t put them on. Yes, it’s “acceptance of risk,” but in this case I do not believe most people understand the nature of the risk, the types of accidents that are prevalent, the common ways people are injured in cars, etc.

Not exactly. Though that’s the situation for most of us, there remains the possibility of actually teaching people how to drive before giving them a license. We don’t do that in the US.

The purpose of most states’ road tests (I used to work in this business in NY) is to make sure the person has the basic competence to operate a motor vehicle without being a danger to others. There is no testing of your skills, your thought processes, or your understandings of what types of things usually go wrong in driving situations. You’re handed a license at the tender age of 16 (on average, US), and sent on your way for the rest of your life. We could do a lot better if we wanted to. Problem is, law-abiding drivers cause a lot less accidents than the ones that would be likely to avoid additional instruction…

Re: Helmets to be required in Seattle

In article <johnfoss.qxmyb@timelimit.unicyclist.com>,
johnfoss <johnfoss.qxmyb@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
)
)
)Helmets are like seat belts in cars. They may be a hassle, but they
)work. More from the article:
)
)"• Three of the five children killed in bike accidents from July 1998
)through April 2002 likely would have survived if they had been wearing
)helmets, health officials say.

The question is, how many children in Seattle who were in car
accidents, or pedestrian accidents, were killed between July 1998 and
April 2002, and how many of them would have survived if they had been
wearing helmets?

My bet is that the answer is, more than 5 were killed, and more than
3 would have survived if they had been wearing helmets.
-Tom

Re: Re: Helmets to be required in Seattle

An argument for wearing helmets in cars?

But in a car, the seat belt is the equivalent of your helmet. The car is your protective shell, as long as you stay inside it and don’t get rattled around, or punch your head through the windshield for instance. On a motorcycle, bike, or unicycle, you have no shell, and your whole body is much more vulnerable.

One of the statistics I remember from my driving school years:
Passengers who are ejected from a vehicle in an accident are 25 times more likely to be killed. That’s 25 times rather than 25 percent.

Obviously the higher speeds in cars make for much harder impacts. But in the majority of accident types, I’d rather be in a car with seatbelts on than on a bike.

Though wearing helmets in cars would surely save some lives, the difference would be much less than it is for cyclists who have no other protection.

Re: Helmets to be required in Seattle

In article <johnfoss.qxpyn@timelimit.unicyclist.com>,
johnfoss <johnfoss.qxpyn@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
)
)Tom Holub wrote:
)> My bet is that the answer is, more than 5 were killed, and more than
)> 3 would have survived if they had been wearing helmets.

)An argument for wearing helmets in cars?

Well, a refutation, or at least dilution, of the idea that “children
were killed, therefore we should mandate compliance.”

)But in a car, the seat belt is the equivalent of your helmet. The car is
)your protective shell, as long as you stay inside it and don’t get
)rattled around, or punch your head through the windshield for instance.

Try this: sit in your car with your seat belt on, and try to hit your
head against stuff.

You decide if you want a helmet or not.

)Though wearing helmets in cars would surely save some lives, the
)difference would be much less than it is for cyclists who have no other
)protection.

Requiring helmets in cars would almost certainly save more lives and
more taxpayer money than requiring helmets on bikes will. 40-50K people
per year die in car accidents in the US, vs. fewer than 1000 cyclists.
Even if 80% of the cyclists would be saved and only 20% of the drivers,
more lives and more money would be saved with the driving helmet
requirement than the cycling helmet requirement. And a helmet is
a less onerous requirement for a driver than a cyclist.
-Tom

Re: Re: Helmets to be required in Seattle

I think the article was listing statistics for children under the thought that this new legislation applies mostly to children. Many helmet laws apply to riders under 18 only, but this one appears to be for everybody. I’m sure they would have higher numbers if they included all ages… :frowning:

My brother did precisely this in 1985. He died from his head/brain injuries and was wearing a seat belt. His is only one example, but obviously carries a lot of weight with me. In his case, a side curtian airbag might have saved his life. But in his 1975 Datsun it wasn’t an option.

You’re totally right on that one.

So does this mean motorists should wear helmets and cyclists should not?

I’m not sure what you mean by onerous, but certainly it doesn’t mean “easier to pass this legislation.” :slight_smile: The helmets needed for proper protection in a car would be much heavier, more cumbersome, and expensive than bike helmets, though a bike helmet would still be better than nothing.

Anyway, the bike/car argument only goes so far. I still consider seat belts to be the rough equivalent, though motorists outnumber cyclists to the point where adding protections in the car will surely save more lives.

Re: Re: Re: Helmets to be required in Seattle

Oops, I did it again…

Re: Helmets to be required in Seattle

In article <johnfoss.qxwob@timelimit.unicyclist.com>,
johnfoss <johnfoss.qxwob@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
)
)Tom Holub wrote:
)
)> Try this: sit in your car with your seat belt on, and try to hit your
)> head against stuff. You decide if you want a helmet or not.

)My brother did precisely this in 1985. He died from his head/brain
)injuries and was wearing a seat belt. He is only one example, but
)obviously one that carries a lot of weight with me. In his case, a side
)curtian airbag probably would have saved his life. But not in his 1975
)Datsun.

I’m sorry to hear that.

)> Requiring helmets in cars would almost certainly save more lives and
)> more taxpayer money than requiring helmets on bikes will. 40-50K
)> people per year die in car accidents in the US, vs. fewer than 1000
)> cyclists.

) You’re totally right on that one.
)
)So does this mean motorists should wear helmets and cyclists should
)not?

I would avoid conflating the issues of benefit and compulsion.
Obviously both cyclists and motorists could benefit from wearing
helmets. The question is, why does it make sense to make helmet use
compulsory for cyclists and not motorists (or pedestrians)? The
argument that cyclists might get head injuries and therefore be a
drain on public resources, doesn’t hold water when motorists and
pedestrians are likely to get more head injuries and be more of a
drain on public resources, yet are not being compelled to use
helmets.
-Tom

When seatbelts became compulsory in the UK, the long term reduction in driver injuries was almost unmeasurably small and the increase in injuries to vulnerable road users (e.g. perdestrians, cyclists, us) was dramatic (somewhere around 30% or more from memory).

“Nanny State” style compulsion regularly shows itself to be ineffective at best and positively harmful at worst. Proper education regarding the risks is a better way forward - education for both the people legislated for and the people making the legislation. What appears to be an “obvious” benefit is often shown to be no such thing.

Have fun!

Graeme

…I promised myself not to get into another helmet thread. Bad Graeme, no beer for at least a week :roll_eyes:

Sounds harsh, can we pardon you, after all I kind of mumbled the same thing, and then I start a new thread on the subject.

Maybe ot: Lance Armstrong had an amazing stage 14 of Le Tour de France yesterday. He made a huge move with about 10km to go and about a minute into his break away, his handlebar caught an object held by an observer.

If you haven’t seen any coverage of this event it is bizarro. While climbing the cyclists have to thread their way through a crowd of fans. They stand in the way of the cyclists until they get a few feet away then jump back to the side. Sometimes they run ahead or behind the cyclists, one guy was running with his shorts pulled down!

In this instance, the fan was clearly on the side of the road, but Lance was a little too close. His front wheel turned 90 degrees and he went head first over the handlebars, apparently landing on the side of his elbow. Another rider plowed into the back of his flattened bike and fell as well. The second place rider Jan Ullrich, whom Lance was in the process of challenging was far enough back to get around the mess.

Lance got up, fixed a stuck chain and continued. Ullrich actually waited, as did the entire chase group Lance was in at the time, for him to get back into the pack. But before he could catch up completely his right foot came off his pedal and he lunged forward, his chest smashing into his handlebars. Somehow he kept from falling off again.

Once he caught back up the the group the race pace was resumed. Within minutes Lance pulled away and finished by increasing his lead over Ullrich.

But the interesting note is that everyone had just taken off their helmets. The rule in Le Tour is that riders can remove their helmet for the final climb of the day if the climb is greater than 5km.