Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Vancouver Council will go for all-ages helmet law

Posted by on January 29th, 2008 at 10:40 am

(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

Last night, Vancouver City Council decided to postpone their vote on a new helmet ordinance. The ordinance, which initially sought to only apply to kids under 18 years old, is now likely to apply to everyone.

Jan Bader at the City Manager’s office told me that the Council did not pass the ordinance last night and instead, “sent it back to staff for revisions to make it all ages.”

“We’re going to rework it,” she said, “and look at suggestions from testimony received last night from local bike clubs.”

Vancouver Bicycle Club President
Corey Rose testifying in support of an all-ages
helmet law at City Council last night.
(Watch the meeting here.)

One of those clubs is the Vancouver Bicycle Club. I spoke to club President Corey Rose yesterday. He said “I just think everyone on a bike should have a helmet,” and he confirmed that the club sent a letter recommending the all-ages provision to Council.

City Manager Bader added that she thinks the Council is unanimous in its support for an all-ages provision and that the issue will likely be back in front of council for a vote by the end of February.

For more on Vancouver’s push for an all-ages helmet law, see the article I published yesterday.

Click here to watch and listen to the helmet ordinance being discussed at last night’s City Council hearing (includes public testimony both for and against).

Also read the article on this published today in The Columbian.

Stay tuned for details on upcoming City Council meetings and hearings regarding this issue.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • john January 29, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Being able to transport yourself via your own human power, is a basic human right. Any rules or laws that hinder this basic right are wrong.

    Mr. Rose may think everyone should wear a helmet, well is he willing to put some money where his mouth is ? Is he willing to buy every adult that may wander into vancouver on a bicycle a helmet? Is he will to pay everyone the extra time and hassle that ensues. Is he willing to pay for the increase in accidents from those not riding as carefully because they have a helmet on?

    As already alluded to in other posts, this is a slippery slope. Well i know eating such and such is bad, lets mandate a specific diet, i know excercise is good lets have mandatory exercise, we can go on and on. It really is about freedom, and we all know, I hope, that communism doesn\’t work so well.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 11:29 am

    OMG!! Stop the Red menace!!

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  • Gram Shipley January 29, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Helmet laws make me want to stop wearing my helmet. Plus, lord knows we all need something else for cops to be able to write us tickets for.

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  • bravenewworld January 29, 2008 at 11:39 am

    This notion that wearing a helmet will make cyclists safer seems reasonable only if it is the only alternative available. But it\’s certainly not. The need for a helmet is a SYMPTOM of a transportation infrastructure that does not sufficiently accommodate bicycles. The real SOLUTION is fixing the infrastructure. As many commenters have pointed out, the cycling injury rate in countries with well established cycling-friendly infrastructures have both a much lower rate of helmet use and a much lower rate of cycling injuries (Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, etc.).

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  • bahueh January 29, 2008 at 11:41 am

    anyone who bitches and moans about having to wear one has never hit their head on the pavement at high speed…..because your head always hits the pavement at high speed.

    if people want to stop riding their bikes in Vancouver because they have to protect their brain….well, they\’re probably riding for the wrong reasons anyway. If you love your bike, you\’ll ride it no matter what.

    less bitching. more pedaling.

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  • BURR January 29, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Way to go helmet nazis!

    Sieg Heil!

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  • bikieboy January 29, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Gee, good that they\’re so concerned about the welfare of the bicycling public. I wonder if they\’d want to amend the law to include requiring helmets for motorists? And pedestrians, people in showers, and any other group at risk of brain injury?

    Take a look at some stats. on head injury causes, and remind me why we\’re requiring helmets for bicyclists, & not for motorists?

    51% – Motor Vehicle Accidents
    21% – Falls
    12% – Assaults and Violence
    10% – Sports and Recreation
    6% – Other

    From the Center for Head Injury Services

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 29, 2008 at 11:51 am

    your comment reminded me of something a public health official from the The Netherlands said on a recent research trip to Portland…

    he claimed that statistically it was more dangerous to take a shower in The Netherlands than to ride a bike.

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  • bikieboy January 29, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Bahueh wrote : \”…well, they\’re probably riding for the wrong reasons anyway.\”

    what in your mind would be a \”wrong reason\” for riding…?

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  • West Cougar January 29, 2008 at 11:55 am

    \”I just think everyone on a bike should have a helmet\”

    Well Hell, let\’s just make it a law then!

    Hey Corey and the rest of Vancouver, what you think, no matter how well-intentioned, does not justify a law telling other people how to behave. It is an old, out-dated concept, no longer taught in schools, but its called liberty.

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  • tonyt January 29, 2008 at 11:55 am

    \”because your head always hits the pavement at high speed.\”

    Always? No.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Wait, are we Nazis or Commies? I thought we were Commies. I can\’t keep it straight.

    Anyway, if you don\’t fight us now in the \’Couve on helmets, you\’ll be fighting us in Portland on everything else tomorrow. Our goal is total world domination.

    The next thing you know, we\’ll be telling you that your bike has to have lights, that you can\’t ride the wrong way down the street, and that you have to stop at stop signs.


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  • solid gold January 29, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    helmet laws are silly. any law that enforces common sense as a way to protect the lowest common denominator (and give police an additional reason to ticket and question you) sucks. you life is your own to live or die with, there should be no law making you \”live clean\”.

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  • Moo January 29, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    The right to drive is considered a privelege to all who are first, able, and second take the time, effort and expense to benefit from this privilege. Riding a bike is totally by choice, as is the gear you wear and the bike you ride. Can\’t they just outlaw mulletts and tube tops…this would go farther in getting your southern neighbors to respect you alot more.

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  • Zach January 29, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    What I wonder is if cyclists are actually more sanctimonious than the general population, or if it just seems that way?

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  • West Cougar January 29, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    What astounds me is the willigness, nay *glee*, of so many people to legislate their lifestyle choices onto others.

    The list of examples is endless. And always, always it\’s done for one\’s own good.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 29, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    On our City Council there is really only one \”advocate bicyclist\” and that is our Mayor Royce Pollard. He is known locally as the \”Bicycling Mayor\” for over a decade or so.

    Some of his motivation in championing this proposed law was that he landed pretty hard on his head while riding a bike in Propstra Plaza (Esther Short Park) before an event. I saw him take the fall while riding down a set of stairs in the pedestrian plaza. In this case the helmet let him shake off the crash.

    The other recent motivation is a broader reaction to a child bicyclist who was killed when struck by a vehicle last year…and to bring the city in line with other communities in the state.

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  • GLV January 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Wow, barely an hour and we have Nazi AND Communist references. Godwin\’s law strikes again.

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  • tonyt January 29, 2008 at 12:44 pm


    Lights and adherence to traffic control devices are things that relate to other users\’ safety.

    It is my business that a biker use a light because I need to see them in order to not hit them. It is a hazard to me if I cannot see them. That is true whether I am in a car, on a bike, or a pedestrian.

    Stop signs etc.? Ditto.

    Regarding the comparison to seatbelts. Seatbelts keep drivers in their seat, where they can continue to control the vehicle after an initial impact. I myself witnessed a wreck where a truck went off the road, the driver was tossed into the passenger seat, and then could do nothing as the truck rolled straight into a telephone pole.

    Ejected passengers are likewise a hazard to other road users.

    I use a helmet about 99% of the time. But it really is none of anyone\’s business but my own.

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  • Refunk January 29, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I don\’t need no stinkin\’ law forcing me to ride with a helmet.

    I have the indelible memory of three (3) *broken* helmets to encourage the habit. My doctor said, \”Stop already. That\’s about as much slamming around as your brain can take in one lifetime.\”

    I\’m kinda with a.O. on this, and also all for personal liberty and so forth, but I just can\’t get excited about this particular law. Now if it was the reverse–if helmets were *banned*… They could have mine when they pried it from my cold, dead fingers, arrrrrgh.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    It is my business that a biker use a light because I need to see them in order to not hit them.

    And it\’s my business whether you wear a helmet, because when you don\’t you are far more likely to be injured and far more likely to be forced to live with a permanent brain injury. That means that, if you are poor, I pay for your initial and long-term care through my Medicare and Medicaid taxes. If you are not as poor, I pay higher health insurance rates because of the higher costs paid for your care by your private insurer.

    Either way, your behavior costs me.

    It\’s a big myth that your failure to wear a helmet affects only yourself. And I\’ve only even mentioned the financial cost, which is arguably not even the most important.

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  • Torfinn January 29, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Yes actually a.O the fact that any of us are cycling as opposed to driving which is much less risky should be illegal, solely on the reasoning that if we don\’t have enough money to pay our medical bills the rest of us will have to bail them out.

    The reason you\’re being called both a Nazi and a Commie is because you frequently flip flop your stances in regards to laws based on enforcing your personal interests on the rest of us.

    Your utopia isn\’t necessarily where the rest of us care to live.

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  • Torfinn January 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Actually, we should all legally be walking.

    No more cars or bikes.

    Also, no more skateboarding, or Snowboarding, taxpayers may have to foot the bill.

    Actually, no more anything but work, eating a regulated diet, no smoking, etc blah blah.

    The sentiment you don\’t understand a.O is that people simply don\’t like being told what to do.

    We don\’t feel like other people making choices for us.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    …cycling as opposed to driving which is much less risky…

    I think this is false. Driving is more risky, whether in absolute numbers or per trip.

    …you frequently flip flop your stances in regards to laws based on enforcing your personal interests on the rest of us.

    I noticed that you asserted elsewhere that the reason I was \”advocating for more laws\” was that I benefit as a lawyer. That\’s ridiculous and demonstrates that you have no idea what I do (and that you obviously don\’t carefully read my posts, which is fine). I don\’t benefit any more than any other member of our society from any traffic law because my practice has nothing to do with those laws (it\’s energy and natural resource development).

    Simply put, you\’re wrong. Wrong about changing stances and wrong about my personal interests.

    But I have demonstrated how everyone else pays a price for the decision of others not to wear a helmet. I don\’t hear *any* sensible response to that fact.

    I don\’t like being told what to do either, which is why I don\’t like people who make stupid choices telling me I have to pay for their stupid choices. If you were really so concerned about freedom, you\’d realize that the people who are against helmet laws are the ones *forcing* people to subsidize the poor choices of others.

    The people advocating against such laws are really the ones who are \”promoting Communism\” – they\’re just too ignorant of the actual facts to understand that.

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  • Jeff TB January 29, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    a.o., reset and try again. This time try to include some notion of \”freewill\” in your arguement.

    If you do not agree in the notion of freewill, then don\’t waste your time.

    Torfinn, i think you should be more specific and argue for the elimination of fast food and high fructose corn syrup. Otherwise, right on.

    And why Moo? I think that tube tops should be mandated cycling gear. John Howe looks great in one.

    Freewill. Freewill. Say it with me a.o. Freewill.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Jeff TB, I have no idea what you\’re talking about.

    But let me say this again, lest it isn\’t clear:

    People who don\’t wear helmets get injured more frequently and drive up private and public health care costs. The cost of a lifetime of care for a brain damaged individual is staggering.

    The costs of one individual\’s decision are borne by the rest of society.

    If you oppose a helmet law, you are advocating for people to be able to charge you for the costs of their own decision not to wear a helmet.

    In short, you are advocating for the costs of one person\’s bad decision to be shared by everybody.

    That sounds more like communism to me than saying everyone should wear a helmet so we don\’t have to pay for your brain injury.

    Now, isn\’t that ironic?

    *You\’re* the communist and I\’m the one trying to lower your taxes and health care premiums so you can spend your money on what you want.

    That\’s why any sensible libertarian would support a helmet law.

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  • Moo January 29, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    There is no \”free\” in freewill for a.O. remember.

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  • Torfinn January 29, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    a.O I understand your logic, and it makes great sense….

    However I think that it\’s digressing to greater faults in our societal system than addressing a simple helmet vs healthcare funding type of argument.

    Frankly, I could spin a thousand different activities into this argument people simply shouldn\’t be allowed to do if the costs might abstractly be placed upon the tax payer as a whole.

    One for instance might be golfing.

    People get hit in the head with golf balls, might not have insurance, badabing! I\’m paying for it.

    So should golfers wear helmets?

    What\’s the cutoff here?

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  • bike4fun January 29, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Amen, a.O. (post 29)

    I am tired of paying for the idiots that don\’t want to wear a helmet, or stop smoking, or not wear a seat belt. If you don\’t want to be a responsible adult, fine, but DO NOT expect me to pay for the injuries or illness.

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  • itsdirty! January 29, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    you mean you guys dont wear your helmets in the shower?

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    So now we\’re comparing the likelihood of a TBI from getting hit on the head with a golf ball to the likelihood of a TBI from getting hit by a car while on a bike without a helmet? I don\’t think so.

    That\’s a distraction from the issue at hand: Your refusal to wear a helmet requires me to pay for your bad choice, because that\’s just the way the health care system currently works here and everywhere else in the world.

    This isn\’t about golf balls. It\’s not about making decisions with respect to other risks. It\’s about you wearing a helmet so I don\’t have to pay for it.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    What\’s the cutoff here?

    Generally, lawmakers think in terms of cost-benefit analysis when deciding whether a law would benefit society. They weigh the burden (b) of adopting the regulation against the probably that a loss will occur (p) multiplied by the size of the loss (l). When b > pl, the law would cost more than it would save, so it would not be a good policy. But when b

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    [my post on the cutoff was cutoff!! ha!]

    But when b

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    it\’s broken. forget it.

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  • Tasha January 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Wow, so from the logic I\’m seeing here, does this mean we should we start fining people over 250 pounds for their Health Care costs relating to their weight (i.e. heart disease, diabetes, etc.), making it a law for everyone to do yoga, since it\’s so damn good for you, and get rid of everyone\’s television sets due to the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle?

    It seems to me we all KNOW what is good/right for us/society (i.e. eating healthily, exercising, wearing a seatbelt and a helmet, doing cross word puzzles instead of playing video games, etc.). The question is, should there really be laws FORCING us to do these things, instead of educating us to make these choices ourselves?

    Who\’s going to pay for all of these required helmets/lights/panniers (is that next – save your back!)etc. required on a bike? Will it come standard when you buy a bike now (like seatbelts are now required in automobiles)? Or are we going to penalize poor poeple who ride a bike not out of choice, but out of neccessity, even more buy ticketing them when they haven\’t bought that $50 helmet that\’s now required.

    Off my soap box now. Thanks.

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  • BURR January 29, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    So if driving is so risky why isn\’t there a mandatory helmet law for motorists?

    The amount of money we collectively as a society pay for unhelmetted cyclists\’ head injuries is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money we collectively pay for unhelmetted motorists\’ head injuries.

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  • Dag January 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    This is beating a dead horse, but I\’m not sure that requiring helmets actually is a benefit to society. This is a decent summary of various arguments in favor and opposed, although the author comes out opposed. I think most relevant are these two sentences:

    Australian studies show a decline in cycling after mandatory helmet laws were introduced. The British Medical Association estimates that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the dangers by twenty to one

    So, even helmetless cyclists reduce medical costs to society overall.

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  • Phil Hanson (aka Pedalphile) January 29, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I wonder how many people who oppose helmet laws for bicyclists would support an end to the ban against marijuana. Sure, it\’s a different subject, but the same principles apply. If it all boils down to personal choice, shouldn\’t I be able to toke at will without risking imprisonment?

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  • Tasha January 29, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Yes Phil, you definitely should! It\’s up to you whether you want to partake in a potentially harmful, yet also potentially wonderful experience. If I can fill my arteries with cheesecake and donuts (knowing the risks to my health), one should also be able to fill their lungs with marijuana in the privacy of their own homes.

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  • tonyt January 29, 2008 at 2:41 pm


    Try as you might, there is simply no flat-out objective way to look at this.

    This issue invariably involves a fuzzy line. What compelling interest does the STATE have in mandating helmet use? What is a reasonable restriction?

    You can tell me that you think it should be a law, and argue for it becoming a law, but don\’t try to claim some absolute, objective high ground where your argument is impenetrable. It ain\’t.

    I have insurance. That is a business relationship that both the company and I have entered into by our own freewill. I pay them premiums, they pay the doctor when I crash and break myself.

    If you, someone not a part to that business relationship, gets to tell me to wear a helmet, where does that end? Can I no longer go mountain biking? That\’s pretty risky. No skiing? No drinking? No rare steaks?

    If you have the right to tell me to wear a helmet because it might save you money, then it\’s no big step for you to tell me to wear body armor. Seriously

    There are plenty of good lawyers and judges who have been able to argue successfully in favor of helmet laws for motorcyclists, but that almost invariably involves the fact that the state has already inserted itself into the equation with operator licenses. In other words, if you want to ride a motorcycle, which the state already controls via licenses, you must abide by the state\’s requirements – helmets. I don\’t agree with that, but they\’ve been able to argue it.

    The state has also inserted itself into the helmet issue with kids under the argument that the state is protecting minors who do not yet have the capacity to make such a decision for themselves.

    Jeff TB, I think instead of \”freewill,\” which is a discussion for another day as to HOW we arrive at our decisions, you mean \”freedom\” or \”rights\” which are principles that govern what we allow each other to do.

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  • Torfinn January 29, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    So, if there were a lobby of anti helmet capitolists that provided a certain amount of dollars to exceed your cutoff point we\’d be clear then?

    While this may be about helmets a.O, as I understand it Cancer, lung disease and a few other things are costing our society a metric shit ton more than helmetless cyclists.

    Need I mention an 800lb gorilla?


    If it all boils down to the dollars a.O our society would become an unliveable place.

    First and foremost, everyone would need their diet planned for them.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 29, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Here is the up to date link for last night\’s council discussion:

    Scroll down and launch the chapter on helmets.

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  • Dabby January 29, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Here is something to read and ponder.

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  • Jim O\'Horo January 29, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    I only have dialup service & it would have taken 3+ hrs. to download the link listed by Todd Boulanger. Here\’s a link to a Columbian newspaper article:

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  • Phil Hanson (aka Pedalphile) January 29, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks, Tasha! Pot and donuts — two of life\’s great pleasures. Oh, yeah. And bikes. Don\’t forget the bikes.

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  • Zaphod January 29, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    I think the comment from Dag #37 is the salient one.

    I wear a helmet 100% of the time, save the occasional test ride, but don\’t feel we need a law for this.

    The complexity in this discussion arises from the data versus the anecdote. The data implies we should abandon the law. The anecdote speaks of a tragedy that may have been prevented through using a helmet and has emotional element that may cloud judgement.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Hey tonyt, don\’t try to claim some absolute, objective high ground where your argument is impenetrable. It ain\’t.

    I tried to explain where we draw the line – there is a principle that creates a bright line – but it wouldn\’t work.

    Anyway, FWIW, I support repeal of the cannabis prohibition because B > PL and I also enjoy donuts.

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  • bahueh January 29, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    tonyt…do a lot of OBRA road racing do you?

    I do…I\’ve seen a lot of broken helmets and have witnessed more bicycle related injuries or crashes than you probably ever will…and yes, your head always hits the pavement in some form or another. I personally have enough scars and cracked trophies at home to prove the point..

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  • bahueh January 29, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    that study has been thrown around ad nauseum the past few years…its has a large number of epidemiologic flaws inherent in its design if I recall…hard to tell without the the actual acticle.
    good public health data is only as good as its investigator…his comparisons are also that of two very different things (high speed falls and begin struck by a car…um, ya, not the same)
    that do not produce the same injuries by enlarge.

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  • Torfinn January 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm


    You would support the repeal of a drug that has been proven to cause lung cancer, but you want people to accept that they should be compelled by the law to wear helmets, on the off chance they survive and happen to end up brain damaged with hospital bills?

    Perhaps flip flopping wasn\’t the best term, but you can see my concern with your logic can you not?

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  • Dabby January 29, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    I know it has been around, I helped spread it before.

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  • Barbara Chapnick January 29, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Anyone who cannot afford one, can get a FREE helmet from police depts, Legacy Hosp or CCC (I think).

    Helmets do not PREVENT accidents. They prevent head injuries from being as bad as if you did not have a helmet. Its a precaution similar to wearing a condom.

    This small preventive measure can save your brain from dying. Why NOT wear one? And more than that, why not make it a law that everyone wear one, not just children?

    I find it hard to believe that some folks think that \’rights\’ are the issue here? We are so bogged down with \’rights of others\’ that some kind folks miss the point. Some laws actually are good for folks, like speeding or running red lights. They are not indended to take anyones \’rights away\’, they are indended to prevent accidents so that the rights of others to have a safe travel are protected.

    So in my opinion, I support a law inacted that requires ALL bicyclist to wear a helmet irregardless of their age. Many adults are like children sometimes. They think They will never have an accident when we go out riding. If they knew they might crash ahead of time, they may have decided differently. So having a helmet law for all ages may protect someone from a head injury.

    The problem is inforcing this law. The helmets are relatively cheap. Inforcing the law is a bit more costly but I still support Red Stop Signs, even if folks choose to run them.

    And I support the Helmet law. Sorry if you dont agree with me.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Torfinn, I\’ll give you $20 if you can provide me with a copy of a paper published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal demonstrating that smoking cannabis causes lung cancer.

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  • BURR January 29, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    @#48 – Racing is different and I\’m sure OBRA has their own rules and policy about wearing helmets when racing in an OBRA-sponsored or sanctioned events.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    \”Torfinn, I’ll give you $20 if you can provide me with a copy of a paper published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal demonstrating that smoking cannabis causes lung cancer.\”

    a.O and Torfinn. I\’m all for promoting dialogue but perhaps you two should exchange emails and discuss your personal cannabis debate somewhere else.

    Or, do you (and others) think this line of discussion is valuable to the topic at hand?


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  • tonyt January 29, 2008 at 3:59 pm


    Exhibit A.

    A year ago I wrecked my bike and broke four ribs (ouch!) My helmetless head somehow did not make contact with the pavement or any surface and emerged completely unscathed. Lucky me.

    You said \”always.\” It only takes one to prove \”always\” wrong.

    Almost always? Yes. Always? No.

    A.o. – You and me and JeffTB and a few other regulars are due for conversations over beer.

    And folks, as with the fixie/brake issue, people are confusing whether something is a good idea, and whether the state should have the right to dictate said idea.

    Helmets are good. Empowering the state to force others to wear them because you yourself have freely decided it\’s a good idea? Not so good.

    If it ain\’t your business, it ain\’t the state\’s business.

    So yeah, you\’re right a.O., I guess I am claiming some bit of high-ground here. So sue me. NOOOO! I\’m kidding! 😉

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 29, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    \”So having a helmet law for all ages may protect someone from a head injury..\”

    Barbara, that fact is undeniable… however, for me this issue has little to do with safety and injuries and has more to do with creating a culture that encourages more people to ride bikes.

    I can\’t help but be fascinated by what\’s happening in Vancouver because right next door they have Portland… which is arguably the #1 city for bikes in the country… and we have realized that an all-ages helmet law is not necessary. Not only that, but the BTA, does not support such a law…yet folks in Vancouver are likely to enact the law anyways under the guise of \”safety\” and it being the sensible thing to do. Amazing.

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  • a.O January 29, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Well tonyt, I guess the elected representatives of the people of Vancouver are going to decide. Perhaps that\’s the way it should be, eh?

    And, damnit, I have tried a few times to get people (peejay!) to have beers at the Lucky Lab. We should post in the forums for a Friday night sometime. Other people have mentioned that with regard to me and Dabby. And despite strong disagreements, I\’m happy to sit down and have a friendly chat with anyone! even Satan himself (not to compare the two, of course).

    And Jonathan, are you uncomfortable with people mentioning illegal drugs or something? If so, you might what to pick on that stoner Pedalphile. (Joke!)

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  • Brent D January 29, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    They mandated wearing seat belts in cars some time ago. Many states have helmet laws for motorcycles. Now they are mandating wearing helmets on bicycles.

    Safety nazi and free will issues aside, to me this is one step closer to being on an equal footing with cars and motorcycles. Its a sign that bicycles aren\’t just for kids anymore.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 29, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    \”have beers at the Lucky Lab. We should post in the forums for a Friday night sometime.

    That\’s an awesome idea. I will create a Forum section for off-line meet ups and start trying to make this happen (I\’ve been wanting to have regular \”social hours\” for a long time now!)

    \”Jonathan, are you uncomfortable with people mentioning illegal drugs or something? \”

    No. I\’m just sort of getting impatient when people use the comments to settle personal disagreements that don\’t seem to be related to the topic at hand. I am very conscious of the experience of all visitors and I know that many people are annoyed when they see comments devolve into off-topic arguments. The result is that they simply tune out …and that is bad for business. Hope you understand.


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  • Dillon January 29, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    A.O here\’s your article.

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  • hickeymad January 29, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    my 2 cents:
    helmet laws are for little whiny baby societies. Vancouver; grow up!

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  • Opus the Poet January 29, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Hello, guy with serious head trauma here. A helmet saved my life back in 2001 but didn\’t prevent brain damage. You might think I would be in favor of a helmet law, but I\’m not. I am in favor of everyone wearing a helmet when they ride, but I don\’t think the government has any business telling people what to do with their bodies if the goverment is not also paying to help maintain those bodies, i.e. the \”it will cost us\” argument is meaningless. I understand that Oregon has more access to health care than TX, but until we get Universal Access to health care the government has no business telling me how to take care of my body, or any part of that body.

    Now, having said that, Y\’all wear your helmets, OK?


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  • Cøyøte January 29, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    This is a depressing story, and a more or less childish discussion. Corey Rose did a disservice to the entire cycling community throughout the NW.

    If such a law were enacted here, my first reaction would be to throw the effing bike in the river. Of course I would not do that, but I would ride less, probably a lot less. If it is so dangerous that a reasonable person needs Styrofoam hat to ride, then I\’ll just drive.

    I have been riding to work off and on for 25 years. Never been in wreck, never went down while commuting, not really even close, now some jerk feels he has the right to tell me what to do. The F-you impulse is huge.

    Fix your own house first. Reduce car deaths from accidents, then worry about me.

    Worried Medicare Medicaid rates? Then ban smoking, or trans fat, tax fat people, or a dozen other things that are more harmful. Then worry about me.

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  • bahueh January 29, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Jonathan…what you don\’t publicly recognize however if it more people are helmetless on bikes, higher prevalence of traumatic brain injuries there will be…you, being an experienced rider (I think) have to realize that there are a LOT of inexperienced riders out there..

    increased ridership is great. intelligent self-preservative ridership is even better. helmets are cheap. their benefits are enormous. anyone arguing the fact has an agenda..

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  • bahueh January 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Burr…racing is NOT different. speed on a bike will have the same effect to your brain on the pavement without a helmet. period. the causes of the accident may vary from racing to commuting..the result is the exact same.

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  • bahueh January 29, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    good luck with your next wreck…because if you keep riding, there will be a next one. pay up your insurance premiums.

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  • JeremyE January 29, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Just because it\’s recent and I look at these feeds: Marijuana does do some serious damage but doesn\’t talk about cancer. (Sorry, Jonathan, if I fuel their fire.)

    I\’m of the mindset of putting a helmet on as second nature, but I really have a hard time making it illegal. Surely, there are more pressing issues, like enforcing the traffic laws we already have.

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  • coyote4130 January 29, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Where do I send the hate mail?

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  • bahueh January 29, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    JeremyE…you have a point.
    I may advocate for helmet usage…but yes, law enforcement has to have something better to do with its billable hours…

    speaking of…wonder if A.O. is charging a client for all the time he spends on this site…

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  • BURR January 29, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    bahueh – racing is different, as there is a sanctioning body that already has the power to promulgate rules that affect participants in their events.

    You should go proselytize to the Europeans, and see how far you get. Very few cyclists wear helmets in Europe, I think the European approach is that people watch out for themselves and each other without having to legislate stupid crap like mandatory helmet use.

    In fact, I\’ve participated in organized bike tours in the cities of Paris and Barcelona, I didn\’t have to sign a waiver, I wasn\’t required to wear a helmet, and the one participant I saw go down didn\’t injure their head.

    Now, I often wear a helmet but I\’m old enough to have grown up in a time when bicycle helmets didn\’t even exist for all practical purposes; I rode for many years as a child, teenager and young adult without a helmet and never had any type of head injury that a helmet would have prevented.

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  • Cøyøte January 29, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    coyote4130 #69

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  • michael downes January 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    A couple of years ago the British Medical Authority (the body that represents doctors) did an extensive an in depth analysis of the risk & benefits of cycling ( Their conclusion was that cycling was so beneficial to the individuals who rode on a regular basis not only in terms of health but also emotional well being not to mention the wider benefit to the community as a whole from reduced pollution & congestion that the slightly increased risk of injury from not wearing a helmet paled into insignificance.

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  • Torfinn January 29, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Blech, I wasn\’t trying to turn this into a drug debate or anything I\’ve a purely Libertarian stance on what people tend to do with themselves.

    I was purely trying to isolate a.O\’s logic loophole.

    I don\’t want your filthy 20$ lawyer dollars, 😀

    Maybe just a beer at the lucky lab and a continued discussion.

    I\’m civil.


    Sorry Jonathan, I\’ve no bone to pick with a.O, we\’re just commonly on opposite sides of the issues we end up talking about, and trying to illustrate examples of our perspectives we often run afoul of the intended course.

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  • Bjorn January 29, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I wouldn\’t think this was such a bad idea if the city of vancouver cared at all about cyclist safety at any other time. My morning commute goes along a street that is signed as bike route. It is a 4 lane road with a 40 mph speed limit, no bike lane, and a curb at the edge so there is no escape route. If they really cared about cyclist safety they would take steps to improve infrastructure because helmet or not you aren\’t going to fare well when hit at over 40 mph.


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  • Tbird January 29, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    “I just think everyone on a bike should have a helmet,”
    -nice! I just think anyone who thinks should just think. Think about it!
    What\’s next? Mandatory condom laws while having snog with the misses?

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  • coyote4130 January 29, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I wear a helmet ALL the time, even though it cramps my style and makes me look like a big dork. A helmet law for children is one thing, but a helmet law that includes adults is B.S. I can\’t help but think of all the people that will be all turned off cycling in Vancouver because of this. Thanks for fighting for the cause Corey Rose, you dip! I didn\’t start off wearing a helmet, and for a time I though I never would, and if there was a helmet law in Portland I would of never started riding my bike as my main mode of transportation. I will be sending my email of discontent to Mr. Rose soon, and would be boycotting the Vancouver bicycle club\’s sponsors if they had them.

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  • joel January 29, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    well *i* for one think that all other road users, and the road itself, should be covered in 1 foot thick padding. that way, if i fall or get hit, not only is my head protected, but all the other body parts as well, because lord knows i dont want the rest of humanity footing their respective few cents of my hospital bills via their taxes or increased insurance premiums. heavens no.

    im happy to know that so many people are concerned enough about the welfare of my cranium during one specific subset of potential impacts to it to completely neglect potential injuries to the rest of my body.

    helmets are *fantastically* effective at what they do. unfortunately or not, what they DO do is protect from what i believe to be a small subset of potential cycling injuries, and their overemphasis comes at the expense of the portrayal of cycling itself as far more inherently dangerous than it actually is. conditions external to the act of cycling itself are the source of the danger, and they cannot be controlled by a helmet law. anecdotally, of the far-too-many (well past the double-digit mark) people i have known who have lost their lives while riding their bikes, the majority have been from injuries that a helmet could not have prevented (and often did not succeed in preventing)

    will vancouver be providing helmet lockers at the border? because i want to know where i can store mine while im not within their city limits.

    ah yes, the eternal helmet argument. the helmet crew calls the non-helmet crew \”stupid\” and \”organ donors\”. the non-helmet crew calls the helmet crew \”nazis\” and \”commies\”.

    if it goes into law, ill be annoyed, but ill put my helmet on in vancouver, or even wear it elsewhere anytime im going to ride through vancouver, cause hey, carrying a helmet around anywhere but the most logical place to carry it is just silly. but ill be damn happy there are still places i can ride without it if i so desire.

    me, im just gonna go ride my bike, and forget that i did anything so stupid as post on this topic.

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  • beefa January 29, 2008 at 7:28 pm


    You had to go and do it didnt you!!! Even after our conversation today, I knew you could not stay away.

    I\’m not touching this one.

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  • Huggy Bear January 29, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    As a 60 year old bike rider in Vancouver Ialways wear a helmet but that is my choice not because someone else says Ihave too. As a member of the Vancouver Bicycle Club I for one do not think the city goverment has the right to tell an adult that they must wear a helmet whenever they go for a ride on their bike. If they choose not to so be it.

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  • graves January 29, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    I don\’t think there should be a law about helmet use and I wonder how many of the folks that are so vehemently opposed to helmet laws wear them on a daily basis… coyote – Nice job getting through 25 years, but the helmet is for the one time you do crash and hit your head. I wear a helmet that may make me look like a chaude, but I like my brain the way it is. Your brain can\’t heal itself when it\’s damaged, \’course y\’all probably knew that already.

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  • Toby January 29, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Barbara #52 Would you also support laws requiring the use of condoms unless you had documentation from a reproductive therapist that you are trying to have kids? If not, the analogy doesn\’t hold up. If so, well that\’s just scary.

    Why NOT wear one? Normally I wear gloves, cleats, helmet, and panniers. All, at least in part, for safety reasons. But sometimes I just want to bop down to the store three blocks away and don\’t want to get all geared up. All I want to do is throw on a backpack, boots and go without getting a ticket for $xxx.xx

    When I rode my motorcycle to the east coast, only half of the states I went through had helmet laws. I wore my helmet at all times. Except at on campground that had about one mile of paved road. I found my camp site and road back to the entrance to pay sans helmet. I think the speed limit was 25mph and I never went faster. I also swore that I would never do that again!

    Point is, I was raised safety conscious, taught how to make my own decisions, and accept responsibility when those decisions don\’t go as they should. I also am OK with chipping in when someone else gets their head bashed in from a preventable impact just the same as I\’m OK with chipping in when his riding partner broke his back in the same crash. I guess they were both a couple of uninsured cyclist in a painful pileup.

    I live in Portland and not Vancouver so this doesn\’t affect me directly, yet.

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  • Cøyøte January 29, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Graves, thanks for the good thought, but at some point haven\’t you won? Your point is not lost on me, but I have done and survived shit that would make a.O\’s panties wilt. (Chill a.O I see your point too, but you have been a little flippant on this topic, and deserve a little abuse 😉 Hopefully it never comes down to me whacking my huge effing dome on the hood of a Navigator, or even worse I look like a \”chaude\” (is that latin?).

    BTW I dug out my SkidLid on Monday and cleaned the funk out it. 6\” of snow in Eugene made me think better of felted armor. In the end I thought better of riding too, and drove the Bronco. Damn, I like ridin\’, but that truck is awesome, anyway I needed to get rid of the last of the June gasoline anyway.

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  • toddistic January 29, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Dear Government officals,

    Please leave me alone.


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  • BURR January 29, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Can someone please send this discussion to the Vancouver City Council before their vote?

    Or is it already too late???

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  • John Peterson January 29, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    I think there was a study published in the NYT about the likelyhood of falling off a ladder and smashing your head being greater than such an injury on a bike…..
    Maybe we should just mandate helmets 24/7 for everyone…we could call them life helmets….body armor too.

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  • John January 29, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    #81- \”I wonder how many of the folks that are so vehemently opposed to helmet laws wear them on a daily basis\”

    Count me in. I wear one everywhere I ride. Doesn\’t mean we need a law. I prefer to treat the causes of a problem (as in, prevent) rather than partially alleviate only one aspect of the undesirable results.

    -On the other hand, bicycle helmet requirements do reduce the amounts or likelihood of automotive insurance payouts when drivers are involved in a cyclist\’s injury.
    -Throw in Washington State\’s largest auto dealer right here in town for good measure.
    -This is also kind of bicycle related, bicycle stuff is sort of a green thing to do, and a quickie helmet law is about the cheapest bicycle related thing around.
    -Furthermore, from what I\’ve seen up here in Vancouver, almost all of the helmetless riders are homeless, kids with a little independence, or adults not allowed to drive; the same groups Mayor Pollard and the downtown neighborhood associations have been working so hard to chase away.
    -Our only \”cycling advocate\” on the city council rides the wrong way on sidewalks and fell on his head after trying to ride a bike down stairs in a park. For real.
    -Our only organized cycling representative group is mostly comprised of lycra, carbon, and titanium-oriented cartoppers. They promised that Vancouver cyclists wouldn\’t argue, certainly not the ones that mattered.

    And that\’s how you brew up a perfect storm of helmet laws. Mostly the first one, but quietly. And something about a five year old girl who had her head run over after getting clotheslined by a jacked up pickup a year or two ago to frost the deal.

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  • Adam January 29, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Whenever the government makes decisions for people it teaches them to not take personal responsibility for their actions.

    Many of us think wearing a helmet is the right thing to do. But, we don\’t need a mayor, city council, a governor or a president telling us what decisions to make.

    If you think the role of government is raise every every person from cradle to grave, then you might support this law. But, if you think people should be allowed to make their own decisions and live their own lives without government interference, then you would oppose this law.

    Vote Ron Paul 2008

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  • BURR January 29, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Adam, I agree with you up until the political endorsement.

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  • joeb January 29, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    What BURR said. I always wear a helmet. Throw my vote in against helmet laws.

    Do the people who get uptight seeing somebody without a helmet feel warm and fuzzy seeing somebody in one? What does that person feel when their advocacy becomes law. Just curious.

    I\’ll concede to the argument about the cost of health care to the community. I can understand that although, personally, I am willing to help cover costs for somebody else whether they deserve it or not. If I abuse a system (helmets, stop signs, whatever), I feel bad about it. If somebody else abuses it, for some reason, it doesn’t concern me. I can’t even make myself concerned about it. Just the way I’m wired I guess.

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  • anon January 29, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Hey The Couv!! Is Corey Rose an actual cyclist?? From the video he looks like a Chevy in Trek clothing.. Is this person really on your side???!!! And for that matter. Who on your city council has any persective on cycling in general??

    Your all so so plump and funny.

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  • Joe January 29, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    I have helmet hair, does this pass? hehe
    ohh and i\’ve crashed. racing/riding. high speed stuff is insain,, it saved my head

    but like to ride alone sometimes without
    my helmet and JUST a hat or beanie.

    IN racing helmets are key.. way! key.
    or group ride.

    be safe in the snow/wet

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  • Bjorn January 29, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    #81 I wear my helmet nearly everytime I ride. Very very occasionally however I have been wearing a ski hat or something similar and gotten a couple of miles from home before I realized I didn\’t have my helmet on. I also once had my helmet stolen off my bike when I left it. Vancouver isn\’t exactly known for being bike friendly, I think this law will probably just be used to harass otherwise law abiding cyclists and that is why I oppose it.

    I had a WSDOT employee pull me over and order me to throw my bike over a fence or he would call the cops while I was riding legally on a signed bike route (WS-14). I did eventually receive an apology from that employee although he continued to maintain that he was just trying to keep me safe. Since I was new to the area and not sure I was in the right I tossed my bike over the fence and climbed over before riding about an extra mile to get to work.

    This is just one example of the kind of attitude that you run into while riding legally in WA, and the last thing I need is to have to deal with harassment and fines the one day a year I forget my brain cage.


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  • Joe January 29, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    wow Bjorn, sorry some people just look
    to bug cyclists these days, I do think the
    real isssue is (some) car people and they feel they own the road over us.

    I hide everytime i see a WA plate coming towards me.. well not really but i worry
    of the skillst behind the death machine.


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  • Todd Boulanger January 29, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    Readers of BikePortland, if you wish to comment on the pending adoption of a youth/ all ages helmet law in Vancouver (and soon to be Clark County) please send your email by next Monday to:

    CITY COUNCIL (Mayor)



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  • wsbob January 30, 2008 at 12:30 am

    I read the Columbian article (link at top of page). Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane already have mandatory for all bike rider helmet laws. That\’s something to think about. Where did the momentum to successfully implement such a law come from?

    According to the Columbian article, the Couv\’s city council\’s ordinance \”…. will require helmets for all riders and passengers in the city on bicycles, skateboards, roller blades, roller skates and unicycles on all roads, sidewalks and trails.\” Wow…that\’s very comprehensive. On all roads, sidewalks and trails? Unicycle riders too?

    I\’ve never mountain biked, but I\’d like to think that if I ever decided to bike a nice forested trail in Washington state, I could legally do it without a helmet on my head. In the city…traffic, hard surfaces everywhere…I believe helmets are a good idea for everyone in many riding situations. Even so, legally obliging adults to wear them seems excessive. Maybe this is somehow an insurance issue for the city; it gets a break on its liability premium if it has an across the board bike helmet ordinance?

    Interesting also that as the ciy pulls in skateboarders and skaters for mandatory helmet use, it doesn\’t require other equally important gear for those activities: wrist guards and knee/elbow pads. Maybe nobody told city council about that stuff yet. What\’s next? Everybody in the \’Couv has to wear mouth guards while biking, skateboarding, skating, unicycling on all roads, sidewalks and trails?

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  • Jean Reinhardt January 30, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Control motorist behavior first–raise speeding fines, make it easier for the state to permanently sieze cars of repear DUI\’s and other substandard drivers, and in general reduce the legal and civil rights of motor vehicle operators. Break the dangerous behavior of drivers first–then frills like a cyclist helmet law would make sense.

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  • Mike January 30, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Just another reason its better to live in Portland!

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  • Spanky January 30, 2008 at 8:13 am

    I wonder how many who have posted in this thread have had a true head injury due to a helmetless fall. I have. It sucked. I scared hell out of my SO and it made me realize that some things are just too important to risk. My brain matter and ability to function, enjoy life, support my family, think clearly and remember things are among them.

    I think it should be the law because some people in society are too dumb to do voluntarily, what they should do as a matter of common sense.

    I see it as valid good public policy. Analogizing going without a helmet and a resulting head injury to \”fat people\” and tobacco users is not really fair. First, some fat people are so not because they eat too much or have unhealthy lifestyles. They are not fat as a matter of choice. Second, tobacco is an addictive substance. I am not excusing the use of tobacco, but the distinction is that \”kicking the habit\” is something more involved than putting a helmet on before getting on a device that can transport you at high speed, and among hard objects, some of which are also moving at high speed.

    I do not support a Third Reich in the US, but I do think helmets should be mandatory for biking, motorcycling, and snow sports. Where is the line drawn between these activities and hiking, rock climbing and walking down the street (or driving!)? Search me. All I can tell you is my head injuries, both the minor ones and the significant one, were not the result of driving or walking.

    There is simply too much to be lost, and too many people other than oneself who will be affected in innumerable ways when you are hurt.

    It sucks to be in an ER, be aware that you are off by six months when the doc asks you what month it is, and see your SO crying. It sucks to years later have to write everything down so it is not forgotten a moment later. It sucks to have a fleeting thought, make a mental note of it and realize minutes later, that it is gone. It really does.

    And as a society, it sucks to have to bear the burden of supporting those who suffer from brain injury that could have been prevented by use of a cheap and easily obtainable helmet.

    As biking grows in popularity, head injuries from accidents will increase. And it is likely that those head injuries will be more common in novice cyclists or those new to cycling among traffic.

    Wear a helmet. Whether it is the law or not.

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  • Tasha January 30, 2008 at 8:58 am


    I totally respect your views (though I disagree), but with your logic of \”I think it should be law because some people are too stupid to do it\”, this could apply to a number of things. A lot of people are \”too stupid\” to realize that they aren\’t mentally, physically or financially fit to bring a child into the world and yet they still do (and this affects a lot more people than just hitting one\’s head on the sidewalk). The point is, we should focus on EDUCATING these people that the smart thing to do is put your helmet on. Make it clear that it is very neccessary. But making a LAW leads us down a slippery slope of \”what else can they make laws about?\”.

    What we think and know is right and what are allowed to be made into laws are sometimes two very different things. If we can collectively take responsibility for ourselves, great. But why get the state/count/police involved in something like helmets, when we all agree there are many more dangers to cyclists right now out on the road. I agree wholeheartedly with Bjorn in that if they care so much about cyclist safey, why is this the only issue that has come up? What about requiring more motorist education in regards to watching out for cyclists, better bike infrastructure, etc?

    I don\’t have any personal experience in cycling in Vancouver, but just speaking in terms of if Portland decided to go in this direction.

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  • Anonymous January 30, 2008 at 9:21 am

    I guess I\’m confused.

    Don\’t smoke cigarettes they cost society in medical costs.

    Do smoke pot because it is your choice and the law is bad.

    Wear a helmet because it has a cost benefit to society.

    You can\’t espouse personal liberty and good to society at the same time.

    Remember we aren\’t talking just your liberty it\’s \”liberty and justice for all\”.

    So individual liberty is overridden by the common good.

    Your liberty extends as far as the end or your fist and the start of my nose.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 30, 2008 at 9:31 am


    …The City of Portland OR has recently released some information that addresses your concern that \”As biking grows in popularity, head injuries from accidents will increase. And it is likely that those head injuries will be more common in novice cyclists or those new to cycling among traffic.\”

    (As reported on this site before.)

    Other recent regional press coverage on the topic

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  • Adam January 30, 2008 at 9:48 am


    my arguement is pretty much a standard libertarian one. if you agree with me I would at least do some research on Ron Paul and see if you agree with anything else he has to say.


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  • Opus the Poet January 30, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Spanky (#99) I had a severe head trauma while wearing a helmet, with brain damage. When I get emotional I can\’t talk and sound like a moron, but mostly I\’m not too bad. I also have a slight limp, but I feel perfectly normal when I\’m on my bike. I think everybody should wear a helmet, since the one I was wearing saved my life. I am also 100% against a helmet law. Those are not contradictory statements.

    Wearing a helmet provides a small measure of protection from cranial trauma, which may be the difference between life and death. But a helmet is also a sweat collector and irritates the scalp and can lead to baldness. There are other factors as well. Protecting yourself in absence of Universal Health Care is a personal responsibility, not the government\’s job, and there are things the government can do that are a lot less intrusive than a helmet law and a lot more effective.

    Preventing the wreck is more cost-effective than making sure the victim is wearing a helmet during the wreck. Even in cases that don\’t involve head trauma, there are other injuries. My medical bills for my wreck, not including treatment for my brain injury, were over $125,000. That included installing and removing hardware from my hip, repairing my knee, and skin grafts to replace skin that had been blown off by impact or ground off by road abrasion. I was wearing a helmet, and guess what, none of those injuries could have been prevented by wearing a helmet, or even body armor.

    So, as a victim of a very violent wreck, I repeat my stance as being against mandatory helmet laws. Enforce speed limits, get drunks off the road, and enforce the law about yeilding to bike lanes, first. Then after you have gotten 100% compliance with all other road laws and rules, you might institute a helmet law to protect against the tiny fraction of unavoidable accidents caused by poor sight lines.

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  • bahueh January 30, 2008 at 10:43 am

    hey OPUS…
    lets see the proof that wearing a helmet leads to baldness….that is entertainment at best…not fact.
    is that really a basis to argue against a new law? seriously? baldness?

    you should enquire about the causes of baldness…I don\’t believe any medical professional would agree with you.

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  • Mike January 30, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    It seems to me in the past couple years that vehicles kill most cyclist in the Portland area. Most of those cyclist have had helmet\’s. In fact… can anyone think of any cyclist death\’s in the Portland area within the past 2 years that did not involve a motor vehicle that was the because the cyclist was not wearing a helmet? I can only think of those 2 homeless drunk guys who collided with one another.
    But every cyclist death I can think of such as Brett, Tracy, Mike Kalan, and many others…. all involved helmeted cyclist who where hit by motor vehicles.
    Helmet law does not seem to solve the safty issue at all.

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  • wsbob January 30, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    \”I do not support a Third Reich in the US, but I do think helmets should be mandatory for biking, motorcycling, and snow sports.\” Spanky

    Do you really feel that people need to wear a helmet when cross-country ski-ing? Cross-country ski-ing is a very mellow, low danger activity. A lot of the kind of biking people do is similar to cross-country ski-ing in that respect.

    \”Wearing a helmet provides a small measure of protection from cranial trauma, which may be the difference between life and death.\” Opus

    A small measure of protection? That certainly seems to understating the situation. I\’d say that any piece of equipment capable of preventing you from having a traumatic brain injury represents a huge measure of protection. Never-the-less, adults shouldn\’t be bound by law to wear them when biking. The case has not been made, to the extent that I have heard, that adult cyclists not wearing bike helmets represents a great cost to society.

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  • Torfinn January 30, 2008 at 1:42 pm


    Helmets should be mandatory for snow sports?

    Man, I don\’t want to go for beers, you just turned my snow yellow.

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  • shelly January 30, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Thank #102 for that insight to the future of our cycling community and recognizing that in the future this will be a significant issue as more people take intiatives to cut emissions by means of biking.

    Education would be the first endeavor from the standpoint of public health and what educational services have been provided? Does anyone really know? And what does that education look like, who needs it, how do we mobilize, where and when. What I do know is that society has put systems in place to protect us ALL; systems that we take for granted every minute. Most have worked in our favor and some that have not. But how does this impede us from riding a bike?

    The beauty of riding a bicycle is the freedom it gives and I love that feeling too. And furthermore, I never thought in my 20yrs of helmet-wearing-commuting/racing/touring that it felt like it inhibited that freedom.

    Please bike community understand the future is all about us and we need to support that in a positive way. The arguments here are that people are somehow annoyed because of a helmet law? The bottomline is to protect those who ride and those who will become cyclists.

    As a survivor of 5 concussions, all bike related w/ a helmet, it saddens me this community does not want to reach out to the future of cycling to ultimately protect it:(

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  • ChipSeal January 30, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    I live in a city with oppressive laws mandating helmet use by all cyclists, young or old.

    If this law were not in force, I would wear a helmet at all times, even though I rate it\’s ability to protect me from harm as ineffectual. Having covered all of my helmet surface with reflective tape makes it somewhat useful at night.

    The law is routinely ignored by cyclists, and it is only enforced when cops are looking for an excuse to hassle someone.

    The question that needs to be asked of the Vancouver City Council is what they want the law to do- Increase safety, or increase revenue? If it is the former, will a mandatory helmet law be the most effective means to that end? As others have pointed out in this thread; It is clearly a tiny safety improvement compared to other, more common, hazards.

    I stand with Opus on this one. Helmet laws for adults are more bad than good, but I advocate their use by free men.

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  • wsbob January 30, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    \”As biking grows in popularity, head injuries from accidents will increase. And it is likely that those head injuries will be more common in novice cyclists or those new to cycling among traffic.\” according to Todd Boulanger, comment #102, from the City of Portland\’s website.

    The quote cites \’novice cyclists and those new to cycling among traffic\’ as those more likely to receive head injuries than would other cyclists. That conclusion is simple speculation with no facts to back it up.

    As for the charts and grafts offered through links on Todd\’s comment #102, they don\’t seem to increase a dramatic rise in cyclist crashes accompanying a steady rise in cyclist trips made. I\’ll have to admit though, that I\’m having trouble understanding what the orange line in the one graph is supposed to indicate. Maybe someone can help me out here.

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  • Deacon January 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Shelly #108 it saddens me that you would prefer make me into criminal if I do not agree with you. It reminds me of a quote:

    \”Either you agree with us, or you are a terrorist.\”

    George W. Bush

    I have raised two fine sons, run a successful business for 15 years, fought in a flipping war, and now you are going honestly tell me that I cannot evaluate the risk of an activity that I have been doing for over forty years. Give me a break. The idea that someone would look me in the eye and say I am not competent to make the decision to wear a helmet is repugnant. If that is the case, then how can you trust me to drive a car? Or vote?

    “Either you agree to wear the Styrofoam hat, or you are a criminal.”

    Helmut Evangelist

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  • wsbob January 30, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Correction: \”…they don\’t seem to increase a dramatic rise…\” Substitute \’indicate\’ for \’increase\’.

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  • BURR January 30, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    As a survivor of 5 concussions, all bike related w/ a helmet…

    wow! sounds to me like you need some lessons in basic bike handling skills.

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  • shelly January 30, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Deacon, I know the law and I\’m pretty certain that you would not be a criminal rather given a warning and w/ reoccurring offences it could be considered a violation, but you know that, right?. But please you are missing the point w/ your Anti-Bush rhetoric-those are old and most are looking to the future-we\’re talking bike helmets. And YOU are not whom I\’m ultimately concerned w/, it is the public sphere, community….Get it?

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  • Deacon January 30, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Shelly #115, I think I get it. Just because I do not agree, does not mean I do not understand. You are saying that I am a member of the the public, a citizen, and you don\’t mind abridging my privileges to utilize pubic space in a way that my knowledge and experience tells me is reasonably safe, so that you can protect other citizens that you consider incapable of making the the same decision regarding their own personal safety. Or perhaps is it they are just dumb because they do not agree with you? Am I close?

    Do you get it? Roads are public space and this is just another manifestation of car -headiness. The mentality is: \”If we make them wear the Styrofoam hats, we have done all we can do. Now we do not have to feel so bad when we run over them.\”

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  • Opus the Poet January 30, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    #105 I guess you never rode To Hell and Back then? I saw several guys with severe scalp infections after 3 days riding 100+ miles in 100+ degree weather. #107 Do you know the impact speed bike helmets are tested at? The same speed as being dropped from head height. I was hit with a vehicle traveling between 45 and 65 MPH, orders of magnitude faster than that.

    As I posted several times now, I am in favor of every one on a bike wearing a helmet. But until and unless they can make a full-face bike helmet that can be worn without additional sweat control, that will not turn into a terrifying biology experiment on your head on that 100+ degree day, and will protect that head in at least a 30 MPH impact, then a mandatory helmet law is just window dressing, a feel-good but futile gesture.

    Let me rephrase that so that everyone has a version that they can understand: Bike helmets are designed to work at very low speed, and are pretty much useless in a real wreck at highway speeds. Unless the speed limits are reduced to 15 MPH to get crash speeds within the design envelope of the helmet helmet laws will provide very little real protection, but will make politicians think they have done something.

    And now I\’m going to quit posting on this thread, because the equine is deceased.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 30, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    To WSbob in 111…

    I was quoting a comment from a reader…(and not the PDOT web site…a reader whose comment was not supported by local data.

    The data basically that as more riders ride bikes among drivers – that crash and fatality rates have stayed stable…with better facilities, education, and more awareness among drivers of bicyclists. They have not increased with more bicyclists – novice or not.

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  • wsbob January 30, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Todd, thanks for that clarification. It makes sense that \”…better facilities, education, and more awareness among drivers of(and?) bicyclists.) can perhaps accomplish better what some people apparently believe only a mandatory helmet use ordinance can. I hope the Vancouver City Council thinks about this before they put their new ordinance in force.

    Re; Opus\’s terrifying bike helmet biology experiment: There\’s no law saying you can\’t wash your helmet, even if you use a little soap and water.

    30mph impact? The fact that a cyclist might be moving at a speed of 30mph on their bike doesn\’t mean that in a collision, their head will impact at 30mph.

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  • shelly January 31, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Why are people so upset because they would have to where a helmet? Do you know how many traffic laws there are? This not about abridging your privaleges. It is about protection regardless if you feel like you are the one with the \”knowledge and experience tells me is reasonably safe\” menatlity. This not about one\’s competance to judge their own personal saftey but for everyone to be protected regardless who they are.

    Deacon- #116 and whomever else, here is a link w/ solid stats. Take the time, PLEASE, it is very insightful. And before people start spewing they are their own decision-maker regarding personal safety…Think again, many have come before you making laws to ensure your safety w/out you even having to think about it, those decisions have been made for you.

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  • wsbob January 31, 2008 at 1:31 am

    I think is a good source for information to help people understand how wearing a bike helmet can help them.

    That\’s a lot of stats on\’s page. Do any of them address the question that the Vancouver City Council\’s proposed action raises? Whether adult bike riders in that city are experiencing bike related head injuries with sufficient frequency to justify the implementation of an ordinance requiring them to wear a bike helmet when riding a bike on any sidewalk, street or trail?

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  • Spanky January 31, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Opus: Thank you for your reply to my message. I respect your views, and your experience is certainly in a different realm than mine was: much more severe. So your perspective has my respect.

    I was generalizing when I mentioned snow sports, and should not have. I should have written alpine, telemark and snowboarding. When it comes to xc skiing, I need a tailbone helmet!

    To those who posted the links, etc, addressing my comments re: novice bikers, thank you. I was basing my conclusion on my own experience and observations. Certainly subjective. It does seem to me though, that as the number of bikers increases, the number of bike accidents will, also. And it also seems sensible to at least suspect that among bicyclists new to biking, or new to bicycling in a given setting (a new Mt. biker, or new rush hour commuter), that an accident for that new biker in a new setting, might be more likely than an experienced biker in the same setting.

    I don\’t think the comparison to having a kid is a valid one. Though certainly, there are many, many people who have kids, and perhaps should not have.

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  • Deacon January 31, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Shelly, so you don\’t get it. It is not about safety. It is about control. It is about car-heads making believe they have done something about bicycle safety without modifying their behavior.

    The fact that people are so upset, should be an indication of the impact upon the cycling community. You talk about the future, a law like this will dim the future of cycling.

    As far as the studies go….duh. Helmets protect your head.

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  • shelly January 31, 2008 at 10:30 am

    \”As far as the studies go….duh. Helmets protect your head.\”

    Wow, that sounds dimming?! And as long as the gas keeps pumping the cars will still be on the road.

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  • steve January 31, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Anyone who thinks that this law will be used for purposes other than harrassment, should probably put on a tinfoil hat and start spinning in circles.

    The cops will simply have yet another way to hassle skatebording youth and homeless men.

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  • tonyt January 31, 2008 at 12:58 pm


    Traffic laws are there largely to protect me from you, or you from me. A helmet law purports to protect me from me. Thanks but no thanks.

    You said, \”for everyone to be protected regardless who they are.\” And so when are you going to start inserting the state into what we eat?

    Really, if health and safety is really what\’s going on here, following your reasoning, you should be arguing for the state to dictate how everyone eats. Certainly the obesity epidemic is a far greater danger to public health than helmetless heads.

    Perhaps Mr. Corey Rose should deal with that rather sizable plank in his own life before he aims to empower the state to remove the splinter from mine.

    And hat tip to Deacon for this comment.

    \”It is about car-heads making believe they have done something about bicycle safety without modifying their behavior.\”


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  • tonyt January 31, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    And by the way, I wear a helmet 99% of the time. Just don\’t tell me I have to.

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  • shelly January 31, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Eat your vegetables, floss your teeth, and wear your helmets PDX…choice is yours:]

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  • james August 21, 2008 at 6:03 am

    Will they eventually force pedestrians to wear helmets in situations where they may have to cross a road? I think people should wear helmets, but it doesn\’t help to force them to wear them. Us Americans don\’t like bein\’ told what to do.

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