The majority of Vancouver (WA) City Council members are reportedly in favor of expanding a youth helmet ordinance to include adults.
The ordinance was first heard by City Council earlier this month and based on recent comments by four of the seven councilmembers, there is some momentum to amend the ordinance to make it apply to adults as well as kids.
*The Vancouver Bicycle Club is also supportive of an all-ages law. Former club President Joe Toscano told me today that the club wrote a letter of recommendation to Council asking them to expand the ordinance to adults. Toscano said that, “We just think it makes sense that if you have the law for kids, you should have adults setting the example.”
In addition to safety concerns, one of the reasons cited for expanding the ordinance is to make it easier for the Vancouver Police Department to enforce.
“If you have the law for kids, you should have adults setting the example.”
-Former Vancouver Bicycle Club President Joe Toscano
Currently, many cities and counties in Washington have an “all ages” helmet ordinance (see full list here), but in Portland, the helmet law applies only to riders aged 15 and under.
When asked about mandatory helmets for adults, the BTA’s Karl Rohde says they would oppose such a law in Portland. “We think reducing behaviors that lead to crashes is a better use of police resources than ticketing people for not wearing a helmet,” said Rohde. He also cited studies that he says make the case that mandatory helmet laws actually make biking less safe.
“Studies prove that when you have a helmet law, less people ride…and studies also prove that as more people ride, safety goes up.”
Vancouver’s youth helmet ordinance is set for a vote and public hearing tonight, but according to City Manager Jan Bader, the vote could be postponed. “I think there’s a majority of council members who favor expanding it to adults,” she said, “and if they do, that would be a significant enough change that we would have to re-announce the public hearing and postpone the vote.”