Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 12th, 2008 at 5:48 pm
The Vancouver (WA) City Council unanimously approved an all-ages helmet ordinance at their meeting yesterday. The ordinance was initially drafted to only apply to kids under 18 and was then re-written as an all-ages law at the suggestion of a local bicycle club.
The Council has set a second reading and public hearing of the ordinance to take place on February 25th.
Vancouver is one of only a few jurisdictions on Washington to not have an all ages helmet law. If it passes in its current form, the law would also apply to other human-powered vehicles including; scooters, skateboards, roller skates, unicycles and roller blades. The ordinance also sets aside $5,000 for an educational campaign about the new law and for the purchase of helmets for low-income youth.
While both the current and past presidents of the Vancouver Bike Club have testified in favor of an all-ages helmet law, Vancouver business owner Chris Jochum published a letter in opposition to the ordinance in the Vancouver Voice yesterday.
Jochum, who calls himself a cyclist, said he's "curious as to the motivation behind" the new law. Here's an excerpt from his letter:
"I am unaware of a rise in cyclist accidents in the city of Vancouver, is there one? I have also been informed by other cyclists that there is no evidence that cyclist accidents/fatalities were reduced as a result of helmet laws in other cities. In fact, there is more evidence to support that bike safety increases as more cyclists are on the road (helmets or not).
...I strongly believe that this is excessive government and not something worth the use of our police officers to enforce. I realize that other cities in Washington have these laws on the books, but that doesn’t mean that Vancouver must follow suit.
Again, considering that there is no evidence that Vancouver has a problem with non-helmet wearing cyclists and that there is little evidence to support a decrease in accidents or fatalities when these laws have been implemented, I strongly oppose a helmet law for adults in the city of Vancouver."
If you'd like to weigh in with your opinion about this, be sure to attend the public hearing. Here are the details:
Helmet Ordinance Public Hearing
Vancouver City Council Chambers
7:00pm (show up at 6:40 to sign up for testimony)
210 East 13th St. (1st floor)