Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Updated: Eugene senator will look to expand Oregon’s bike helmet law

Posted by on July 22nd, 2008 at 11:58 am

[Updated 7/24, 5:40pm: *See below]

Sen. Floyd Prozanski wants
to expand Oregon’s helmet law.
(Photo © J. Maus)

State senator Floyd Prozanski (D-South Lane and North Douglas Counties) plans to introduce an expansion of Oregon’s bicycle helmet law in the 2009 legislative session.

Prozanski told me via telephone this morning that he plans to make Oregon’s current helmet law — ORS 815.485, which only applies to people under 16 years old — apply to everyone who rides a bike.

Pointing out his strong record of support for bike-related legislation, Prozanski says “a combination of things” have led him to this decision.

The man involved in Eugene’s most recent bicycle fatality did not have a helmet on, although Prozanski says “it’s questionable” if the helmet would have made a difference. Prozanski also said he’s read and heard about fatal crashes in Portland where the rider was not wearing a helmet.

Reflecting on his desire for this law, Prozanski said, “I guess maybe as I get older, I feel there are certain things we can do that enhance safety but at the same time not be over-burdening.” He also said that he expects broad public support for the law, much like Oregonians supported a mandatory helmet law (as a citizen initiative) for motorcycle riders back in the ’80s.

“Based on that,” he said, “I’d be surprised if the general public would disagree with that same concept for all cyclists.”

Prozanski said his idea has the support of Cycle Oregon and that he’d also consider expanding programs that would help distribute helmets to people unable to acquire one and/or approaching helmet manufacturers for assistance.

This effort by Prozanski will set up an interesting conversation with Oregon’s largest bicycle advocacy group, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

The BTA has worked closely with Prozanski to pass bike-friendly legislation (most recently a rural safe passing law), but they do not favor mandatory helmet laws. In February, they drafted a letter advising Vancouver lawmakers to re-think their positions on the issue saying, “we are not confident that passing a mandatory helmet law makes bicyclists, as a group, any safer… We fear this law will reduce the number of adults and children riding bikes in Vancouver.”

Oregon’s current helmet law requires all persons under the age of 16 to wear a helmet while riding on public right-of-ways. The fine for riding without a helmet is $25.

Back in February, the City of Vancouver Washington passed an all-ages helmet law by a nearly unanimous vote.

[*UPDATE: The Cycle Oregon Board of Directors does not support this law proposal. I initially wrote that they supported it because I heard that from Sen. Prozanski. However, I did not take the time to double-check that position and I have since learned they do not support an all-ages helmet law. Sorry for any confusion and I regret the error.]

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  • Elly Blue July 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    This is hopefully a well-meaning effort on Senator Prozanski\’s part, but he\’s badly underinformed. Senator, with all due respect, this initiative will do nothing to promote bike safety.

    An all ages helmet law would not by any means address the biggest threats to bicycle safety (the big threats are cars, dangerous driving behavior, lack of bike infrastructure, and lack of other bikes on the road) — and it would give the few folks out there who genuinely do want to make life hard for cyclists, and have the power to do so, a great new tool for their vendetta.

    For more background on why adult helmet laws are counterproductive, check out this interesting article by Peter Jacobsen (who presented on this research at the Towards Carfree Cities conference here last month), discussing a correlation with the all ages helmet law in Australia and an increase in bicycle fatalities. This link is for the pdf:

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  • jacque July 22, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Oh, can I be the first of maybe 500 posts?
    Has Prozanski had his head in a bucket the last few years? I can\’t believe he\’s so unaware of the firestorm he\’ll cause if he follows through on this.

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  • Chad July 22, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Let the pro-helmet/anti-helmet games begin!

    (can we talk about fixie brakes too?)

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  • Roma July 22, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Most people are scared of real freedom and like the government telling them what to do, so I wouldn\’t be surprised either if the general public supported this.

    If we want to stop bicycle fatalities, we should just ban bikes from riding on the streets, or better yet, ban cars! Helmets will not save your life in most cases if you are struck by a car.

    Remember the sad story of the bicycle racer at PIR who slammed head first into a pole and died? He was wearing a helmet. Maybe we should ban racing to make people safer.

    It\’s just another thing for police to waste their time doing: ticketing cyclists for not wearing helmets.

    I\’d be curious to know if they are enforcing this law in Vancouver and how many people have actually been cited since the law was passed.

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  • steve July 22, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Breaking news update-

    Recent studies have shown that nearly 100 percent of people involved in motor vehicle accidents were not wearing helmets at the time. In addition the study concluded that concussions occurring during the act of sexual intercourse, almost always occurred when the participants were not wearing helmets.

    Video at 11.

    Who is voting for these idiots?

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  • Roma July 22, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    @Elly #1 –

    Is that the correct link? That article mentions nothing about helmets…

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  • Arem July 22, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I see plenty of kids, everyday, in Beaverton not wearing helmets. (Not to mention riding down the wrong side of the road). Good luck enforcing that, you\’ll need plenty.

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  • Paul Vincent July 22, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Wow. A legislator who has no idea WHY we need a law, but he\’s going make sure we have one. I\’m shocked.

    Can somebody get this guy to do a little research on the subject? Its hard to fathom why we want to do anything to decrease the number of cyclists (plenty of evidence that this is the biggest impact of helmet laws) and motorst familiarity with cyclists.

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  • Paul Vincent July 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    If you do a search at the British Medical Journal site for helmet laws you\’ll find several peer-reviewed studies that support the conclusion that helmet laws have the perverse effect of increasing societal health costs (by discouraging cycling they increase sedentary lifestyles and lead to motorist unfamiliarity with cyclists).

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  • Icarus Falling July 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    It appears that Oregon is the new Vancouver.


    Keep your ideals off of my head.

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  • Dave July 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Horseshit! This is the same as requiring chastity belts to lower the rape rate. There\’s too much more to do in regulating the behavior of drivers to waste time and resources on a helmet law.

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  • Snowflake Seven July 22, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    How about a state funded campaign to encourage ridership and use of a helmet funded by an increase in the gas tax.

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  • MojoMark July 22, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    \”I\’m with the Government and I\’m here to help\”.

    Anyone hear of the concept of \”personal responsibility\”?

    Less government is better government.

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  • Klixi July 22, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Will pedestrians and drivers be required to wear helmets too?

    People like to believe helmets are way more protective than they actually are:,,1610264,00.html

    Why does everyone think they know what\’s good for everyone else? This entire notion is terrible.

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  • steve July 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Ya\’ll are writing him letters right?

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  • toddistic July 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    if this becomes law, i\’ll stop wearing a helmet on priceple alone.

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  • Tomascosauce July 22, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Don\’t do it man…

    Keep the government off my scalp.

    However, rather than everyone get into a heated debate how about we all write to the MAN himself and let him know our feelings?

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  • John Peterson July 22, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    How about mandatory helmets while using ladders? or maybe walking helmets?

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  • jami July 22, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    i wear a helmet and i think everyone should, but anything, like this law, that might keep a person from getting on a bike and riding is a bad thing.

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  • jami July 22, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    and i\’m with toddistic. i might stop wearing my helmet in protest.

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  • Icarus Falling July 22, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I actually discontinued wearing my helmet in protest when the Vancouver helmet law was passed. And I haven\’t worn one in the \’Couv since…

    But they won\’t pull me over for it!

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  • Patrick July 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I can see how this could easily pass. Most people don’t ride bikes for transport. All road users remember other travelers that break laws, are inconsiderate and/or are dangerous, and I imagine that most of the non-biking public would see requiring helmets as being beneficial. It’s going to be difficult to stop this from passing if it gets written. Contact the BTA and Sen. Floyd Prozanski to try to stop it from moving forward.

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  • Anonymous July 22, 2008 at 12:56 pm


    And this poor soul thinks he is helping make the world safer.

    Wonder how many injury accidents are caused by people talking on the cell phone will driving, vs how may injuries would be avoided if everybody wore helmet.

    Or maybe a 3 foot passing rule?

    Or a stiff vehicular homicide law.

    Or increased enforcement of existing laws.

    Please do something about safety, not pass more stupid laws.

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  • JeffW July 22, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    To quote Yehuda Moon, \”It\’s a car problem, [Prozanski]. Why make bicyclists try and fix it with a styrofoam hat?\”

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  • JP July 22, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    This is going to pass. Think about the number of people commenting on this sight every time there\’s a chance to say, \”See, I told you so. They should have been wearing a helmet.\”

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  • jami July 22, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Here\’s the letter I\’m sending to Prozanski.

    Feel free to modify it or use it as is and send one yourself:

    Hello Senator Prozanski;
    I\’m writing to ask you not to promote a helmet law for adult cyclists. I agree with you that helmets are important and I certainly do wear one, but a law fining cyclists for riding their bikes is a terrible idea. Some people can\’t afford helmets. And sometimes even the most committed cyclist has things on her mind and she forgets.

    More bikes on the road means fewer cars, and that makes everyone less likely to get hit by 2000 pounds of steel. This law will discourage cycling and result in more cars on the road.

    I appreciate your interest in cyclist safety, but I think your effort would be better directed at making helmets more readily available to people who can\’t spare $15 to get one. Young adults in particular often have more debt than spending money when they\’re first starting out, and in the calculus between buying a helmet and being $15 short on rent, there\’s no contest.

    Additionally, any laws aimed at making car drivers more responsible for their actions behind the wheel of 2000 pounds of metal would result in better safety for cyclists, pedestrians, and even other drivers.

    Thank you for your time.

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  • Snowflake Seven July 22, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Patrick (Comment #22) got me thinking.

    Who is it that promotes the stereotype of bicycle helmets saving lives?

    Is it actually promoted by any scientific studies? Do manufacturers of helmets or bikes (often one and the same) promote helmet mythology?

    I recall when we bought our bicycles from Bike Gallery, having talked with a staff member for a good 30-minutes about our biking goals (basically replace our car for errands, commuting), he helped us decide on a bike and then transitioned straight into recommending helmets like it was the law or the wisest thing in the world.

    I know that novice riders report feeling safer in a helmet and probably more likely to ride as a result. But if it is of no real value—medically, scientifically—way do the manufacturers and sellers promote it?

    There is a lot of advocacy going on right now, thankfully, but part of the package is photos of helmeted riders. Only hooligan bike messengers in 80\’s movies starring Kevin Bacon don\’t wear helmets… right?

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  • Michelle July 22, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I\’m with the \”afraid of freedom\” comment (Roma). Why must everything be controlled? Let people make the judgement for themselves.

    I am a ritual helmet wearer, and daily bike commuter. I\’ve even been in a bike accident where the helmet saved me, yet I love to ride to the grocery store, occasionally, without a helmet. Isn\’t this like wearing a lifejacket in a swimming pool?? It *could* save a life.

    It\’s a shame to see a community\’s rights and privilages peeled away because of a handful of incidents and some narrow thinking by some powerful people.

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  • toddistic July 22, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    To think this type of legislation is a good thing just proves that Floyd Prozanski is a weak spined politician.

    Prozanski, start off by banning cell phones in cars, fast food drive throughs. Pass a vehicular homicide law, then we can talk about helmets.

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  • Elly Blue July 22, 2008 at 1:16 pm
  • GLV July 22, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Hey Steve (#5) –

    Were they wearing seatbelts? Because that is the relevant analogy.

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  • GLV July 22, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    \”I\’ll stop wearing a helmet if they pass this law, in protest.\”

    A couple of nominees, it seems…

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  • gus July 22, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Anyone interested in having a No Helmet Day…?

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  • Mr. Guy July 22, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    This comes down to a simple question.

    How much govt interference in your life is acceptable?

    They can make a lot of things safer (or not) by passing laws. They can use \”studies\” to prove their point. And somebody can use the same data to disprove it.

    At some point the nanny work needs to stop and people need to make up their own minds.

    If you want to wear a seat belt – then do. If you don\’t want to wear a helmet – then don\’t.

    Last time I checked – this was still the USA and we are given the rights to act as free men and women. I think it is in something called the constitution.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately) being free means having the right to splatter myself over a windshield if I feel like it.

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  • Jeff TB July 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Too bad if this passes. My three year old daughter loves to call out un-helmeted cyclists. Luckily none have become violent (yet).

    I estimate that 100% of bike haters support this legilsation…but most would fight a no-cellphone-while-driving law.

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  • jami July 22, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    yes, glv, not wearing a bike helmet is equivalent to attaching rocket fuel to your car and setting it alight.

    i was building an actually convincing case for wearing helmets, but eff it. i don\’t want to be on your side.

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  • Roma July 22, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Driving in your car is WAY more dangerous than riding without a helmet. When did people get so paranoid?

    When I was a kid nobody wore a helmet, and we were launching our bikes off three foot high jumps. I crashed more times than I can count – never once did I get any sort of head injury.

    Like one of the articles posted above pointed out: you are more likely to sustain a head injury in a car or as a pedestrian.

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  • doug July 22, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I\’m pro-helmet but I don\’t feel too strongly about a law enforcing it either way. Though strangely I totally agree with seatbelt laws.

    I\’ve said this before (in jest, mainly) and incurred wrath as a result, but again: if you\’re in an accident where a helmet would have protected you and you weren\’t wearing one, you should forfeit the right to a speedy ambulance ride.

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  • Red Hippie July 22, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    My wife has a really bad habit. She yells at cyclists without helmets to \”put on a helemet\”. She thinks herself entitled since she is an avid commuter (125 mi/wk in the winter) and has worked in emergency rooms for a few ears.

    Forget the battle of the statistics, she has seen numerous head injuries, both with helmets and without, and thinks that not wearing a helmet is about as smart as not wearing your seatbelt.

    Well last week, I got her to agree not to yell at people anymore, since the mutual assault on Mississippi Street last week. I told her, that I did not want to get beat-on protecting her from the consequences of her comments. There are some real \”no-helmet\” zealots out there.

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  • Nick July 22, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    F*** yes I wrote him. This guy\’s willingness to impose the ignorance of the majority on the minority of cyclists who are already healthy and safe is enraging. I also Cc\’d my own state senator and state rep.

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  • Diogo July 22, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    This is absolutely ridiculous! The state has no right whatsoever to treat its citizens as children. This trend is absolutely detrimental for society at large – if you treat people like children they will become less and less responsible and you\’ll have bigger and bigger state. For what????

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  • Babs July 22, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    The existing law that requires those 16 and under to wear helmets is woefully ineffective. The long-term awareness/education campaign and enforcement for the law are essentially nonexistant. When it was first passed several years ago compliance was high, now it isn\’t so good. Seems that we should focus on improving compliance with the existing law before requiring helmets of all bike riders.

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  • G.A.R. July 22, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I always wear a helmet. Just got back from Paris. Nobody wears helmets there. I find it interesting that in our country, with less socialized medicine, we go to the helmet laws right away, while in France, where the injuries are clearly a public burden, they don\’t. A year or three ago there was an interesting story in the Atlantic on the bike underculture of mostly immigrant workers who cannot afford cars or insurance, or can\’t get licensed, or whatever. These folks don\’t wear helmets, and they are probably the people for whom ER treatment is publicly financed. Well, I predict a law won\’t make \’em wear helmets.

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  • Diogo July 22, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Dave #11:
    \”This is the same as requiring chastity belts to lower the rape rate.\”

    That is the perfect analogy.

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  • GLV July 22, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    \”yes, glv, not wearing a bike helmet is equivalent to attaching rocket fuel to your car and setting it alight.\”

    What on Earth are you talking about? I made no such comparison. In fact, that\’s just about the most ridiculous thing I\’ve heard…today.

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  • G.A.R. July 22, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I don\’t think this is a \”freedom\” issue. I think it is a ridership issue. Will it increase ridership? Maybe it will, via voodoo psychology where it elevates the sensibleness of bike riding in the minds of zillions. I doubt it. I don\’t think it will make much of a difference to ridership either way. What would really help with safety, in the line of mandatory changes to bike-and-rider, is to make it unlawful to sell a bike without lighting that conforms to the law for nighttime riding.

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  • Fritz July 22, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    G.A.R., John Pucher always argues that Denmark and the Netherlands have such high ridership levels _because_ of no helmet laws because then it seems casual instead of serious… that and with better bike, facilities, of course. I recommend helmets for long distance riding but never wear one around town.
    And in that Podcast the guy argued that car drivers stay farther away from people without helmets (and women).

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  • Tbird July 22, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    The only way for cycling to truly progress as a viable means of transport is for rider safety to increase. In order for that to happen we need a fundamental shift in how we view cycle transport. First, stop viewing all cyclists as if they\’re engaged in some extreme sports experience. They\’re not.
    Second, stop riding as if you\’re engaged in an extreme sports experience. You\’re not ( or rather shouldn\’t be while on the street.) Just ride a bike. Sensibly, casually, safely.

    If there is even a perceived need for a helmet then obviously cycling is not safe. The goal should not be socking plastic noggin holders on everyone, but rather curtailing the vectors of endangerment:
    Primarily the auto-centric design of our streets and roadway laws.
    If we severely limit the ability for those among us to use an automobile in the city and I think the need for helmets would almost evaporate.

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  • Diogo July 22, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    As I see it, at the center of this proposal is not the helmet or even bicycles; but the age thing.

    When you have a law specifically for persons under 16 years old and you decide to apply it to every adult person, the point you are making is that there\’s no valid distinction between a child and an adult for that matter. Its a rejection of the very concetp of capacity.

    I think this a very serious issue: politically, here you have the government assuming a paternalistic role, and that runs against the very fundaments of liberal democracies. Culturally, this simply reinforces the trend of infantilization, about which much has been written, being the state of society that prevents the individuals from reaching full maturity by denying them the experience of personal responsibility and self-reliance.

    First you scare them to death; then you pretend to offer protection. That\’s the formula of current politics in America.

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  • Nick July 22, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    One of the most liberal places in the country and soon the government is going to tell us to stop smoking in public, now this. Both are crazy in my opinion.

    What happened to the government helping people where they cannot help themselves? Why are they bothering with crap like this?


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  • ds July 22, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    I emailed the senator. Thanked him for his intentions on safety, but expressed my belief that this is the wrong route to take. That I would rather see the money spent on ways to prevent collisions entirely, than ways to prevent my head from being injured when I\’m in a collision.

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  • Me2 July 22, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I am pro-helmet. I have had more than one friend who can point to his helmet and say that thing saved his life. I\’ve instilled the values of wearing one in my wife and my kids. No amount statistics and peer reviewed studies will make me give up my helmet. The consequences, no matter how remote some academics consider them, are too much for me to risk.

    However, having said that I cannot support this law. If the good senator from Eugene wants to show some genuine leadership and concern for cyclist safety then I suggest he work towards bringing Oregon in line with the 47 other states that have a vehicular homicide law on the books.

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  • wsbob July 22, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    \”Pointing out his strong record of support for bike-related legislation, Prozanski says “a combination of things” have led him to this decision.\” editor Maus/bikeportland

    Well, like what \”…things\”. During the interview, beyond vague ramblings, did he mention even one single specific reason why he felt this legislative proposal was warranted?

    Here\’s what I\’m waiting for: a vigilant legislator that takes on the idea of licensing cyclists as a proposal for legislation. If animosity towards people riding bikes might be a reason why an all inclusive helmet use law receives serious consideration, I believe there\’s likely to be a whole lot more of it behind the idea of licensing people to ride a bike. Sen. Floyd Prozanski\’s vigilance in proposing to initiate this particular helmet legislation seems to me to be excessive, but perhaps his willingness to do this is a lead-up to proposing bike related licensing.

    When the legislature meets again in \’09 it should be interesting to see if Prozanki proceeds with this. I can imagine that the recent collision of guy on a bike Karl Hugo with a truck is likely to be cited as one local example of why an all inclusive bike helmet law is called for.

    recent serious injury collision…injured guy on bike not wearing helmet

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  • Paul Vincent July 22, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Snowflake Seven (comment 27):
    I\’m w/ you on the lack of evidence. See for a peer-reviewed critique of helmet laws, suggesting that the data supports the conclusion that helmet laws decrease the amount of cycling done, but not the amount of injuries. There\’s other literature coming out of Europe that also suggests that helmet laws decrease cycling participation and thereby contribute to diseases of sedentary lifestyle.

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  • Graham July 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I never used to wear a helmet until I heard a co-worker say of a friend who had crashed her bike, \”she\’s doing better, and is getting to where she can talk normally again.\” Pretty much did it for me :).

    Still, I would never, ever impose my choice to wear a helmet on others.

    I\’m against babysitter laws, and babysitter legislators.

    Thanks but no thanks, Senator Prozanski.

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  • Ethan July 22, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    How about piggybacking this with a rolling-stop law like Idaho\’s?

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  • KT July 22, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    It seems like the good senator is out of touch with the \”cycling community\”.

    I would rather see our current laws enforced more, and more fairly and consistently, than a nanny-state law like this hit the books.

    I\’m pro-helmet– for myself. If you choose not to wear a helmet, well, it\’s your brains, do with them what you will.

    Stupid. I\’m sure he has good intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell….

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  • FredLf July 22, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I\’m not sure how I feel about a helmet law. I agree that there are behaviors out there that are much more hazardous to cyclists than not wearing a helmet. And the arguments/statistics showing that helmet laws reduce ridership are also compelling.

    That said, I almost always wear a helmet. I\’m quite sure a helmet has saved me at least once from becoming the mental equivalent of a zucchini. Working in bike shops, I\’ve seen lots of helmets smashed in very convincing ways, and I\’ve had friends who work in ERs tell me the prettiest stories of un-helmeted riders (bike and motorcycle). To me, it just makes common sense to try and put some styrofoam between your brain and the cement.

    Does that mean the gov\’t should force you to wear a helmet? I don\’t know. One thing I wonder about is: if you wreck and have a head injury because you were exercising your freedom not to wear a helmet and you don\’t have health insurance, do you expect the gov\’t to help with your medical bills? Why should I, the taxpayer, pay the price for your decision? I have to admit, I see a lot more people willing to take risks than I see people willing to accept the consequences of risk.

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  • Dalebob July 22, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Horse pucky, let them ENFORCE the law they have. I see more adults waring helmets than I do kids….put some meat in the existing law and JAIL the parents of kids riding without helmets.

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  • Opus the Poet July 22, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I don\’t have a dog in this fight since I\’m living in TX, but if I win the Lottery I might move to Portland and buy/open a bike shop, then I would have to live with local laws. I wear a helmet every time I ride a bike, a full face helmet in fact (and I drown in sweat in the TX heat). Given that you would think I would be a rabid supporter of helmet laws, but you would be wrong. Like the Yehuda Moon quote from earlier, \”It\’s a car problem…\” I wear a helmet because it saved my life, but wearing a helmet didn\’t keep me from being brain damaged. I have been unemployed since 2002 because of my brain damage because someone in a motor vehicle decided I shouldn\’t be allowed to live because I rode a bicycle on \”his\” street. Get the crazies off the roads, punish the ones that hurt people before you catch them, and do something about people that won\’t allow bikes to exist in the same section of road with them.

    Oh, and read my blog. I write about bike safety and you guys get featured in it from time to time.

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  • Myra July 22, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    You are right who needs helmets!! pish posh. Bikers don\’t need helmets they need Next of Kin tags for their head. That way when they die falling off their bike at speed we can find who to send the body too.

    Come on people grow up.

    Put a Helmet on. it\’s not like you have all that many brains to start with. Protect what you have

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  • Mister Viddy July 22, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I\’d fully support this legislation if the good senator would also push for more funding for bike infrastructure throughout the state.

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  • hunter July 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I wear a helmet *almost*/ all the time, except for little grocery trips, etc, and when I forget. But that\’s not the point. It sure is a great idea to wear a helmet but I am all about personal freedom, and one more restriction (when we already have to many) is just bad new. It\’d be great if anyone could post an email link so I could write the senator and tell him how I feel about the proposed legislation. Is this the kind of legislation that doesn\’t go on the ballot, and is either passed or failed on the floor? I think the general public should definitely have a say. Helmets are more expensive than four tickets for riding without a helmet, right? So that will cause some problems, plus imagine what a waste of resources it would be to pay all the cops to pull people over for not wearing helmets when they could be doing something much better with their time….

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  • 2GOAT July 22, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    #26, Thanks for the address. I will definitely be writing a note to Senator Prozanski. This is a sadly misguided use of the legislature.
    I personally would never ride without a helmet because it can be life saving. But, it is not a magic shield that will protect all bike riders. Having this law will just validate motorists who believe bicyclists really don\’t belong on the road because it\’s \”way too dangerous to mix bikes with cars & trucks\”.
    As indicated by #29, Senator Prozanski\’s efforts would protect not only individual bicyclists but auto drivers and pedestrians, if he directed his energy to banning cellphone use.
    I encourage #53 to consider reading Bob Mionske\’s \”Bicycling and the Law\”. Bicycle licensure would be unconstitutional. I agree there should be some mechanism to ensure anyone on the road has been informed on the \”rules of the road\”. Maybe along that line, sure seems like operators of vehicles in the 2 ton or greator range could easily be periodically \”retested\” to ensure they are reminded of the rules and any new changes.

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  • 2GOAT July 22, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Periodic retesting for motor vehicle licensure with inclusion of bicycling rules in the manual and on the test will reach a large proportion of bicyclists also since many cyclists also have a drivers license.

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  • 2GOAT July 22, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Periodic retesting for motor vehicle licensure with inclusion of bicycling rules in the manual and on the test will reach a large proportion of bicyclists also since many cyclists also have a drivers licenses.

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  • Randy July 22, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    I would like to point out then when Austin,tx passed a helmet law for cyclist (which was later repealed) a study was done showing that on average 92% of those issues citations where minorities. Just sayin\’

    link with info.

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  • hillsons July 22, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    When is this poor dead horse going to stop being beaten. I don\’t want to have to trouble with a helmet for my block-long trip to the store.

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  • KWW July 22, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    not to worry! not to worry, comrades!

    in spare time, I am prototyping new safety helmet which can fully defeat 3,000 kilo SUV traveling at 40mph!

    I am hoping that the great Floyd Prozanski would be willing to act as glorious test pilot!

    After this legislation, I am wishful that the great representative of North Douglastan, introduce a bill to outlaw all known diseases!

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  • Kt July 22, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    2GOAT, I agree with your points in posts #62 and 63. As a driver, I would love to be re-tested when I renew… laws change, it would be nice to stay updated.

    Of course, since I also ride, and frequent this site, I\’m better informed as to the laws that have changed than, I think, most of my fellow drivers. I try to keep my immediate family and friends updated, which I know they appreciate (they\’ve said so).

    Even if it\’s an open-book test, mail-in renewal thing it would be better than nothing!

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  • John Russell July 22, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    As someone who protested the Vancouver helmet law, despite the fact that I wear a helmet myself, this is certainly a step in the wrong direction.

    At least in Vancouver, I have noticed no difference since the law was passed. Maybe it was the fact that the council went against most of the people commenting on the law, or possibly the fact that they didn\’t tell anyone.

    At least Royce Pollard wants Light Rail on the CRC. That\’s about the only good thing I can say about these \”Statistics be damned\” people.

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  • toddistic July 22, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Do you really think that living in a state where the courts have ruled it unconstitional for DUI checkpoints, that a helmet law would stand up against the Oregon Supreme Court?

    I\’m not worried, its unconstitutional and nothing but misplaced priorities.

    FYI to Sen. Floyd Prozanski: YOU ARE NOT MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

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  • John Russell July 22, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    I\’ve already sent him a lengthy email detailing why I do not support such a law.

    I also forgot my closing tag in my previous post. Epic Fail.

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  • moses July 22, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Back in the early 90\’s when they were passing the youth helmet law, i tied a helmet to my rack and drug it all around Salem for months to protest our loss of choice. . . Of course i wear a helmet, most of the time, but if this stupid fear-based idea gets close to the floor i\’ll start dragging a helmet or two behind me yet again, and would encourage all who oppose this law to do the same.

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  • Alan July 22, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    At 53 yrs I believe I\’m old enough to decide when I should wear a bike helmut or not. Cops have better things to focus on than what kind on hat I\’m wearing.

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  • Lisa July 22, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    I choose to wear a helmet, especially because it has my mirror attached. I am in favor of helmets but not of helmet laws. This is not about safety it\’s about freedom of choice. Choice, perhaps, for that one block ride to the store. What if we all choose to boycott Cycle Oregon this year. Will they change their tune?

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  • Joe July 22, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    no way, no how.. i wear a helmet 95% of the time.. i don\’t need the cops harrassing me for the 5% of the time I do not wear a helmet.. and we ALL know exactly the type of priorities the cops have when it comes to traffic laws…

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  • Kris July 22, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    It\’s hard to believe that a legislator who proclaims to be a bicycle advocate can be so misguided on this issue…

    What is really problematic with a general helmet law is that it applies the same standard to all types of cycling and dismisses the notion that most adult cyclists are able to use their own good judgment about when to wear a helmet and when not.

    While I spent the first 25+ years of my life riding a bike on a daily basis without ever feeling the need for wearing a helmet, I gradually evolved into a 100%-helmet-wearing cyclist based on some basic rules of thumb I adopted over the years.

    My personal shortlist of when I think it\’s smart to wear a helmet:

    1) bike touring or long recreational rides
    2) mountain biking
    3) riding with clipless pedals
    4) bike racing (mandatory anyway)
    5) any rides involving high speed (think fast descents or paceline riding)

    The last rule is the one reason why I personally feel a general helmet law makes sense for motorcycles, but not for bicycles. If you go down on asphalt at a speed in excess of 30mph, a helmet just seems a no-brainer (no pun intended), but for cyclists who cruise around town or on the Esplanade at much lower speed, wearing a helmet should remain an option, albeit a smart one.

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  • chris July 22, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    This idea is just plain not right. Enough said…

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  • Graham July 23, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Next up: a law requiring that pedestrians wear their galoshes in the rain.

    The more I think about the Ladd\’s stop sign sting, the more I think a law like this would be a fabulous new way for the PPD to shake down cyclists for free money.

    Why is Cycle Oregon supporting this? For free publicity? Maybe they should go on the angry mailing lists, along with Senator Poppins.

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  • burning shame July 23, 2008 at 1:47 am

    I\’m against this law. Not because I\’m anti-helmet or think it will give the cops another excuse to harass cyclists…. but how many more friggin\’ laws do we need that people will bend or ignore.

    It\’s like America is turning into some idiot land – do we need 27 warning stickers on a friggin\’ ladder? \”Caution hot coffee is hot\” is just the beginning my friends.

    I\’ve got a better idea. When people are born why don\’t we just have the baby sign some sort of global EULA, like the ones that come with every piece of software you own. The 97 page document that no human actually reads but checks the \”I agree\” box because they just want to get on with their friggin\’ life.

    This would free us from stuff like the warning on a razor scooter: \”WARNING: THIS PRODUCT MOVES WHEN USED.\”

    …and to blather on, case in point is Mr. Maus recent speeding ticket. He broke the law, yes…. but EVERYBODY breaks this law. Like the stop signs in Ladd\’s addition, everybody does the \”slow and go\” for these stop signs because the stop signs seem \”unreasonable\” for lack of a better term. A reasonable person can come to the roundabout, see that there are no oncoming cars/bikes/giraffes/submarines and proceed. When faced with the stop sign a reasonable person thinks \”what friggin\’ idiot put a stop sign at a roundabout\” … and that way leads to anarchy!

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  • Chris B July 23, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Has anyone read the proposed legislation yet? There is a provision that actually says that cyclists would be required to wear elbow/knee pads and mouthguards! Dental insurance does not cover dental work for bicycle related accidents if you were not wearing a mouthguard.

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  • jenn July 23, 2008 at 7:47 am

    i wear a helmet off and on, but i notice when i don\’t cars don\’t come as close to me. And when i do i\’m normally banging on the side of someones car who\’s veering into the bike lane.

    and yes i\’ve been hit by a car. i\’ve split my head open, but after paying attention to what i mentioned i still rarely wear one.

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  • toddistic July 23, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Chris B: could you post a link where you found the proposed legislation?

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  • gracie July 23, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Cheers to Sen. Prozanski! Its about time. Its just too bad that it had to come to this. I see people here are complaining about the \”restrictions\” they\’d have to face – not to mention bad hair days if they have to wear a helmet. As someone who has taken care of people with closed head injuries from not wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle, I\’d rather deal with a bad case of helmet hair than living the rest of my life in a wheelchair and a drool cup, but that\’s just me, I guess.

    Whenever I see riders out without a helmet, I assume that they have so little regard for themselves that they are likely going to do something really stupid on their bikes. Yeah yeah – I know: its your \”right\” to squash your brains, but then who pays for your care? Tax payers and insurance policy holders, for starters, not to mention your families. If you want your mom to change your diapers for the rest of your life, go for it. I just don\’t want to pay for your stupidity. Of course, the plus side is that you won\’t be able to reproduce anymore, bringing even more nincompoops into the gene pool.

    One poster here pointed out that he shouldn\’t have to wear a helmet because cars are dangerous. Yes they are, and that is why I wear a helmet and don\’t blow stop lights.

    I would love to see Portland\’s bicycle community grow up and stop thinking that somehow they are above the laws of traffic and physics.

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  • steve July 23, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Well Gracie,

    If you have seen so many traumatic head injuries because of no helmet, then you must have also seen many more traumatic injuries WITH a helmet. A piece of styrofoam does not prevent traumatic injury from a 3000 pound vehicle.

    If your delusions make you feel safer, great. Enjoy your personal La La land. Just leave the rest of us out of it.

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  • toddistic July 23, 2008 at 8:48 am

    gracie, its about freedom to decide. we wouldnt have to worry about insurance, state taxes, etc. if we didnt already live in this nanny state.

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  • steve July 23, 2008 at 8:53 am

    What fools like Gracie don\’t seem to understand, is that by their \’Logic\’ bicycling itself should be made illegal.

    It is obviously foolish to put yourself into traffic on a bicycle. Who is going to pay for the injuries when a car hits your styrofoamed head and squishes it like a grape?

    Gracie is a sad little sheep in need of a shepherd.

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  • gracie July 23, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Hahaha! I figured I\’d get a rise 🙂 I fail to see how being pro-helmet makes one anti-bicycle. Dream on folks. HSo glad I made your days.

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  • steve July 23, 2008 at 8:57 am

    I know you fail to see that Gracie. That is why you are an ignorant simpleton. Be sure to not slip in the shower sweety!

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  • steve July 23, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I fail to see how being pro-life makes one anti-choice..

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  • manuel July 23, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I\’m happy to see a vocal and curious minority with enough intellectual capacity to resist the temptation of bullish consumerism under the guise of caring wisdom.
    Some of you may also enjoy, or already know of this source of information on the subject. I apologize if it has been posted in the past.

    Chris Boardman elaborated well on the subject in the June 2007 issue of the UK publication \”procycling\”.
    Someone please scan and post the article if you have it available as it is difficult to find online.

    peace and joy,

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  • c July 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Correction: ORS 814.485

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

    I wear a helmet 99% of the time and I am against a helmet law. It just gives the Police one more thing to harass us about, don\’t we get harassed enough? Don\’t we have enough rules to follow?

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  • steve July 23, 2008 at 9:14 am

    I forgot to mention that I also wear a helmet.

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  • Paul Souders July 23, 2008 at 9:18 am

    To address the epidemic of rapes raging in our streets, we have decided to ban short skirts.

    All pedestrians must now wear day-glo safety vests when crossing the street.

    Coast Guard-certified life jackets are mandatory in the swimming pool.

    Owing to the hazard of sneaker waves, all beachgoers must now wear rearview mirrors on their sunglasses.

    The possibility of murder by psychopathic snipers compels us to pass a law requiring everyone to wear kevlar vests whenever outdoors.

    To prevent the danger of death from complications arising from urinary tract infections, it is now illegal to wipe your ass back-to-front.

    What are you complaining about? We\’re doing this for your own safety!


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  • jrep July 23, 2008 at 9:20 am

    I propose that all users of the road system wear a helmet in proportion to the gross weight of the vehicle. \”All drivers and occupants would have to wear a helmet equal to 0.5 percent of the gross vehicle weight.\” A 170 pound cyclist with a 30 pound bike wears a one pound helmet. The driver and occupants of a 7500 pound Suburban each wears a 37.5 pound helmet. That ought to cut down on oversize vehicles.

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  • jamie July 23, 2008 at 9:32 am

    To Senator Prozanski and anybody else that wants me to wear a helmet – Please stop trying to save my life.

    I wore a helmet today, but i may not tomorrow, and a helmet law won\’t change that. Pretty much boils down to riding without ID and getting creative with names.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 23, 2008 at 9:48 am

    hey folks… please try and not let this thread devolve into name-calling.


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  • mykle July 23, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Please, read the study:

    Anecdotal evidence is fun, and can be convincing in the absence of actual science. But if you read and understand this paper, I hope you\’ll be convinced that helmets don\’t reduce head injuries, though they DO significantly reduce bicycling, which can lead to an overall increase in bike/car collisions due to the decreasing \’safety-in-numbers\’ effect.

    This paper is a summary and critique of a large number of existing studies, and is the most broad and general analysis I\’ve seen on the topic.

    Thanks, Paul, for posting this.

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  • El Biciclero July 23, 2008 at 9:52 am

    I have a question: Will mandatory helmets come with a mandatory fitting class? Improperly worn or ill-fitted helmets can actually INCREASE your chances of injury in a crash. Here is one article about that:

    Do we think people who are not used to wearing helmets, have never worn one, and have never cared how to properly fit one, will do the necessary research to be safe when forced to wear one?

    I wear my helmet 99.99% of the time I ride, but I\’ve also taken the time to find out how to properly wear one. There is some discomfort when first wearing a helmet, and that discomfort can quickly be relieved by over-loosening the straps or shoving the helmet too far back on the head, both of which make it less safe.

    I already see far too many kids (mandatory helmet wearers), and even some adults riding around with either unbuckled straps, straps that are clipped, but hang down 3\” from their chin, or helmets that are tilted way back on their heads. My guess is that a large contingent of adult mandatory helmet wearers would wear theirs in the same ways.

    We see similar behavior in folks who ride around with the shoulder harness of their seatbelt tucked under their arm, or slouch so much that the lap belt is around their belly instead of their hips. People must be educated about proper USE of safety devices or they will not be any safer–and in fact may be at higher risk for injury.

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  • Illa July 23, 2008 at 9:52 am

    *Letter for the lazy*

    Hello Senator Prozanski;
    I\’m writing to ask you not to promote a helmet law for adult cyclists. While I appreciate your interest in bicycling safety, mandating helmets for adults is an insignificant step for bicycle safety in Oregon and may end up costing the state tax payer dollars, while failing to improve the respective safety of cyclists.

    As a daily commuter in Portland, I am well aware of the risks associated with navigating Oregon\’s busiest roads in Oregon\’s largest city. Each year I log thousands of miles on my bike commuting to and from work. In my experience, bicycle safety is not a function of whether a cyclist is wearing a helmet, but rather whether or not motorists and cyclists see each other and, most importantly, whether the infrastructure of cities and towns allows for symbiotic co-existence.

    While your efforts are indeed well intentioned, I believe your energy would be better served raising driver awareness of cyclists, improving cycling infrastructure, and most importantly, passing a law which holds reckless and irresponsible drivers accountable for their actions through a vehicular manslaughter law. Currently, a driver can kill a cyclist and receive little more than a $500 fine. Knowing how imperative it is to see cyclists, and understanding that their negligence will have a personal impact, will do far more for cyclist safety than a helmet law.

    Additionally, the implementation of a helmet law will adversely affect those individuals who can least afford it. Helmets can easily cost upwards of $50 to $100 dollars. Will people be fined for not being able to afford a helmet and relegated to mass transportation, which may not work for their location simply because they cannot afford a helmet? Maybe you propose the state help distribute discounted or free helmets? Who will pay for this? I personally do not want my tax dollars put towards an endeavor which will have a minimal impact on bicycling fatalities. In my opinion, tax dollars could be spent in a much wiser fashion which would significantly impact cycling safety in the state of Oregon.

    Thank you for the audience and I urge you to set the helmet law aside until we have reached a point where cycling fatalities and injuries are just a function of helmets.

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  • jordan July 23, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Although helmets do significantly reduce bicycle fatalities (85% of all head trauma-induced bicycle deaths would have been avoided if bicyclist had been wearing a helmet), Prozanski\’s legislation is not a good choice.
    Helmets \”expire\” after 5 years. The styrofoam goes bad and is not considered safe anymore. Do riders have to wear SNELL or CPS-certified helmets? If not, then what is the point of this? And if so, how will this be enforced? The BTA is right that this could reduce the number of bicyclists on the road and Elly\’s article points out that we are safer in numbers.
    Hey, at least Prozanski is thinking of us. He might be a little misguided but he\’s another head listening to us.

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  • Paul Vincent July 23, 2008 at 10:12 am


    Rather than act with emotion, why don\’t you actually inform yourself on the actual data regarding helmet use and public safety by READING some of the articles mentioned above. The preponderance of evidence supports a conclusion that helmet laws are counter productive and lead to more societal harm than they alleviate. I take it from your post that you believe that you support helmet laws because you think that they are for the common good. You might change your mind if you look at the data.

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  • Paul Souders July 23, 2008 at 10:18 am

    @ Paul Vincent, mykle & others

    Thanks for the link.

    I\’ve been trying to dig into research that might shed light on the safety of bicycle helmets and it\’s surprisingly spotty. For something we should all supposedly do the evidence in favor is underwhelming.

    The BMJ published another study concluding that \”bicycle safety\” programs are actually counterproductive to actual Bicycle Safety (

    The latest Atlantic had a wonderful commentary called \”Distracting Miss Daisy\” about a wider phenomenon (i.e. not specific to bicycles) where a proliferation of regulation and signage reduce vehicular safety in aggregate (

    John Pucher (who has been featured on BikePortland before) has concluded that the health benefits of cycling (for an individual) outweigh the safety hazards. that is, your decreased likelihood of a heart attack outweighs your increased likelihood of getting hit in traffic (

    If anyone has other links please share.

    I\’m sick of the infantilization of the American populace in the name of \”safety.\”

    OTOH I\’m increasingly convinced that said infantilization is perversely making us less safe anyway.

    (And because we seem to require this disclaimer: I always wear my bicycle helmet when riding.)

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  • btodd July 23, 2008 at 10:29 am

    People don\’t even look both ways before crossing the street. New laws in Portland for pedestrians have erased decades of parents teaching their childern to look both ways. Now I witness grown adults walking out in front of traffic, without even establishing themselves at the crosswalk(if there even is one).

    More laws mean less personal responsibility.

    Now, can we please go mountain biking.

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  • shrap July 23, 2008 at 11:40 am

    insert two cents to comment…inserting two cents now…………

    Just wear a helmet.

    I am sure if internet forums were around back when they made helmets mandatory for motorcycles all these same things would have been said as well.

    Just wear a darn helmet. I have seen to many friends either die or have severe personality changes due to head trauma from not wearing a helmet.

    They work. They save your life. They let you grow old and enjoy your grand kids.

    The whole argument of not wanting the government to control you is a moot point. They control you in so many other facets of your life why does it make a difference if they want you to wear a helmet or not.

    Get over it, grow up, and remove the idealist blinders you grasp so tightly to your eyes.

    Just wear your helmet.

    two cents have been used up please insert two more cents to continue to comment.

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  • El Biciclero July 23, 2008 at 11:42 am

    I posted on one of the Oregonian\’s story blogs about why drivers want helmet laws. My theory was that drivers get anxious when they see cyclists without helmets because they feel they have to drive more carefully around the unhelmeted. Most drivers relax when they see helmets on cyclists because they think to themselves, \”Whew! It\’s OK if I have a lapse in attention or buzz this guy too closely, because if I should happen to hit him, he\’s got a helmet on!\”

    I also think (and have read in a report somewhere) that when drivers see a cyclist without a helmet, they automatically assume the cyclist doesn\’t know what they are doing or is a novice or otherwise not a \”serious\” cyclist. Drivers then reason that the non-helmet-wearing cyclist will be unpredictable in his movement, perhaps prone to swerve into traffic at any moment, and that makes drivers nervous.

    My guess is we could solve the driver comfort issue by having some other badge of competence, which is how many view helmets. If cyclists chose to wear a patch on their clothing somewhere visible that said \”I know what I\’m doing!\”, maybe that would be as good as a helmet at calming driver fears.

    We truly have a perception problem, a psychological problem, a stereotyping problem and an education problem (not to mention a pervasive \”me-first\” attitude), all of which are way bigger than any helmet-wearing problem.

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  • jami July 23, 2008 at 11:51 am

    it seems like some people think the bmj study says they shouldn\’t wear helmets. it says no such thing. it says helmet *laws* are counterproductive.

    the bmj article is convincing on two points.

    1. helmet *laws* reduce cycling. boo!

    2. helmet *laws* don\’t reduce head injuries as much as you\’d expect.

    but choosing to wear a helmet absolutely does reduce your chance of ending up with a head injury!!!

    in summary, adults should wear helmets because they want to protect their brains. but a government that supports cycling and the health of its citizens should not require it.

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  • Brian R July 23, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    My letter:

    Dear Sen. Prozanski,

    I am an avid cyclist who rides my bicycle pretty much every day of the week. I wear a helmet on most of my rides but I wish to make it clear that I do not want to have a government mandate on helmet wearing. Helmets can and do prevent injuries in certain situations. I was bicycle racing at PIR in March and crashed. I suffered a concussion and short term memory loss (with a helmet), but the helmet certainly saved me from additional complications. But that is racing.

    General riding on the street carries far less risk than racing does. The risk of head injury when riding a bike as general transportation is roughly the same as having a head injury in a car accident. Not all car accidents involve head injuries (which is why we don\’t mandate crash helmets when driving), and not all bicycle crashes result in head injuries either. In fact, in over 10 years as a transportational cyclist, I\’ve fallen perhaps a dozen times, and never once hit my head on the ground.

    Helmet laws do nothing to lower the rate of fatalities in cycling. If you wish to do something about cyclist deaths, you\’d be best to study changes to our road network to enable cyclists and drivers to intermesh more easily and more safely. Helmet laws merely lower the rate of cycling. And it\’s for trivial reasons too. Women don\’t want to mess up their hair. Men get sweaty under the helmet. But these are real reasons and are real effects that get people off their bikes.

    You might ask, \”why do I care about the number of people on bikes?\” If you care about the overall safety of the cyclist population, one very important factor is the size of that population. Portland\’s fatality and crash rate has remained relatively constant despite a steady growth trend in the cyclist population. As the cyclist population grows, the rate of fatalities and crashes decreases proportionately. I have no reason to expect that the reverse trend wouldn\’t also take place; namely, as the cyclist population shrinks, the rate of fatalities gets larger. If you are interested in making the streets safer for cyclists, you should work to increase the number of cyclists on the streets. As the number goes up, drivers are more exposed to cyclists, the cyclists start gaining a voice so that there is a political appeal to design the streets for more mixed traffic use, and the streets correspondingly become safer for cyclists. Your proposed helmet law work directly contrary to this effect.

    I\’ll admit; your proposal sounds good to a non-cyclist. Why not lessen the responsiblities of drivers to drive safely around cyclists by strapping a styrofoam shell to their head? Cyclists are a minority, why not force this minority to do something because it\’s a feel good thing to do? It might make a driver feel better about their actions that led to a cyclist falling and hitting their head; I mean, if they weren\’t wearing a helmet, then it\’s partially the victim\’s fault that he or she got so badly injured, right?

    The way the law is written now, where children under 16 are mandated to wear helmets, is a good compromise. Teens and pre-teens are somewhat prone to doing stupid things that might get them in trouble, and they need the guiding hand of more experienced adults to keep them out of trouble. But adults are not children. Adults are able to evaluate the risk falling off their bike and hitting their head on a mile trip to a restaurant to eat lunch and trade it off against the hassle of lugging around a relatively fragile and bulky helmet. That phrase, \”lugging around a relatively fragile and bulky helmet\” sounds frivolous, doesn\’t it? But it\’s not. Convenience rules our world and you have to take it into account when evaluating the effect of a law on society. If it didn\’t, we\’d mandate speed limits of no more than 20 mph and we\’d all wear helmets in our cars, walking up and down stairs, and when taking showers. You cannot simply get up on the high horse and mandate a nanny state law. It is irresponsible for a Senator to even propose. Especially when the law is forced upon a minority by the willingness of a majority who is not affected in any way, shape, or form by this law.

    Thank you for your time,

    Brian Ratliff

    Hillsboro, OR

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  • toddistic July 23, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Kurt Vonnegut eat your heart out, right on the money in \’Harris Bergeron\’

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  • Buckman Res July 23, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Mandatory helmet wearing for cyclists is long overdue. Sen. Prozanski is to be commended.

    Next is the more important step of licensing cyclists. It\’s the best way to educate cyclists of their responsibilities on the road and towards pedestrians.

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  • El Biciclero July 23, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Hah. We need Diana Moon-Glampers, the Handicapper General.

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  • gray July 23, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    I personally wear my helmet every time I ride my bike. And I chide my friends for not doing so as well. But I\’m never up for anything that gives the cops more reason or excuses to hassle people. Unless they\’re handing out a free helmet everytime they stop a cyclist.

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  • J July 23, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I do wear a helmet probably 90% of the time, but I will be honest…the times when I don\’t want to wear one for whatever reason I doubt I will be deterred by a $25 fine that has about a 1% chance of being enforced where I live.

    Just a thought.

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  • Torfinn July 23, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    For the benefit of the readership.

    THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

    Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April, for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

    It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

    George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about.

    On the television screen were ballerinas.

    A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.

    “That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did,” said Hazel.

    “Huh?” said George.

    “That dance – it was nice,” said Hazel.

    “Yup,” said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren’t really very good – no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.

    George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.

    Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.

    “Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer,” said George.

    “I’d think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds,” said Hazel, a little envious. “All the things they think up.”

    “Um,” said George.

    “Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?” said Hazel. Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers. “If I was Diana Moon Glampers,” said Hazel, “I’d have chimes on Sunday – just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.”

    “I could think, if it was just chimes,” said George.

    “Well – maybe make ‘em real loud,” said Hazel. “I think I’d make a good Handicapper General.”

    “Good as anybody else,” said George.

    “Who knows better’n I do what normal is?” said Hazel.

    “Right,” said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.

    “Boy!” said Hazel, “that was a doozy, wasn’t it?”

    It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.

    “All of a sudden you look so tired,” said Hazel. “Why don’t you stretch out on the sofa, so’s you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch.” She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck. “Go on and rest the bag for a little while,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a while.”

    George weighed the bag with his hands. “I don’t mind it,” he said. “I don’t notice it any more. It’s just a part of me.

    “You been so tired lately – kind of wore out,” said Hazel. “If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few.”

    “Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out,” said George. “I don’t call that a bargain.”

    “If you could just take a few out when you came home from work,” said Hazel. “I mean – you don’t compete with anybody around here. You just set around.”

    “If I tried to get away with it,” said George, “then other people’d get away with it and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?”

    “I’d hate it,” said Hazel.

    “There you are,” said George. “The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?”

    If Hazel hadn’t been able to come up with an answer to this question, George couldn’t have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.

    “Reckon it’d fall all apart,” said Hazel.

    “What would?” said George blankly.

    “Society,” said Hazel uncertainly. “Wasn’t that what you just said?”

    “Who knows?” said George.

    The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn’t clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, “Ladies and gentlemen – ”

    He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

    “That’s all right –” Hazel said of the announcer, “he tried. That’s the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.”

    “Ladies and gentlemen” said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men.

    And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. “Excuse me – ” she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.

    “Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen,” she said in a grackle squawk, “has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under–handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.”

    A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen – upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.

    The rest of Harrison’s appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever worn heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H–G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.

    Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.

    And to offset his good looks, the H–G men required that he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle–tooth random.

    “If you see this boy,” said the ballerina, “do not – I repeat, do not – try to reason with him.”

    There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.

    Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake.

    George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have – for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune. “My God –” said George, “that must be Harrison!”

    The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an automobile collision in his head.

    When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.

    Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.

    “I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!” He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

    “Even as I stand here –” he bellowed, “crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!”

    Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.

    Harrison’s scrap–iron handicaps crashed to the floor.

    Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.

    He flung away his rubber–ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.

    “I shall now select my Empress!” he said, looking down on the cowering people. “Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!”

    A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.

    Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all, he removed her mask.

    She was blindingly beautiful.

    “Now” said Harrison, taking her hand, “shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance? Music!” he commanded.

    The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too. “Play your best,” he told them, “and I’ll make you barons and dukes and earls.”

    The music began. It was normal at first – cheap, silly, false. But Harrison snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.

    The music began again and was much improved.

    Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while – listened gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.

    They shifted their weights to their toes.

    Harrison placed his big hands on the girl’s tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers.

    And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

    Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well.

    They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

    They leaped like deer on the moon.

    The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it. It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling.

    They kissed it.

    And then, neutralizing gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time.

    It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.

    Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.

    It was then that the Bergerons’ television tube burned out.

    Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George.

    But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of beer.

    George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. “You been crying?” he said to Hazel.

    “Yup,” she said,

    “What about?” he said.

    “I forget,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”

    “What was it?” he said.

    “It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.

    “Forget sad things,” said George.

    “I always do,” said Hazel.

    “That’s my girl,” said George. He winced. There was the sound of a riveting gun in his head.

    “Gee – I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.

    “You can say that again,” said George.

    “Gee –” said Hazel, “I could tell that one was a doozy.”

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  • Jimbo July 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Helmet law?? Geez, next, they will expect us to stop at stop signs and stop lights.

    What about that law prohibiting the sale of drugs???? Can\’t they inforce that one first??? Every day on my commute…well 5 of 7 days….I see deals going down on the water front with bike cops not far away….

    OH, but then they can\’t cite those druggies, cause it cost money… But they can cite us working folks who have jobs to pay fines……

    It just gets better and better.

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Chad, I am all for a law requiring a fixed gear bike to have a front brake. It could be modeled on the UK and EU laws which require you to have a brake on both wheels, and defines a fixed gear hub as a type of braking device. At least then giving a ticket for \”no brakes\” would actually be legally justified and not Police harassment, like it is now.

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  • paul July 23, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    First off I am just disgusted at how much time people waste of their own lives to try and make me safe. Now a law saying that you are not allowed to drive while drunk makes sense. The reason is that a drunk person could then run me over and kill me. Stopping them from driving drunk can save me. I want to say thanks for this law. The helmets on the other hand can only affect me. If I choose to not wear a helmet and I get injured because of this choice it only harms me. I am an adult and I should be the only person that gets to control my life. If I get hurt not wearing a helmet there is no way I will hurt anyone else. I feel people forget about this important separation. We make rules to help people stay safe from other people doing things that might cause harm to us. The fact anyone is spending time on this helmet law makes me just sad for the human race.

    And, I still can not believe people still talk about the fixed gear break issue. Sure, this one falls under the same style of the drunk driver. If someone chooses to ride a brakeless fixed gear that does not have the ability to ride it correct they could harm other people. The sad thing is however that I could walk around town right now and point out hundreds of bikes with breaks that are not maintained right and probably lack in their ability to actually stop the bike. How about we focus on making sure peoples bikes are working before we just start slapping fines on everyone.

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  • jacque July 23, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    \”If I choose to not wear a helmet and I get injured because of this choice it only harms me. I am an adult and I should be the only person that gets to control my life. If I get hurt not wearing a helmet there is no way I will hurt anyone else.\” Paul

    Before you all jump in with that tired comeback that it costs all of society when you get shipped off to the hospital in an ambulance…
    Please just don\’t.
    If you are fat, it\’s costing society. Same thing if you eat processed foods that make you dull and sickly. Choosing to drive an automobile costs society big time… it might be fatal. Buying crap in plastic clam shells is costing society.
    Do you want me to come and slap your hand every time you stick it in the cheetos bag?

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  • Steve (not steve) July 23, 2008 at 5:21 pm


    Egads !!!WTF!
    Talk about police state paranoia. It\’s a helmet law (possibly) Don\’t like it? Fight it.

    This all reminds of a guy I knew who belonged to local motorcycle \”club\” and decided that, to protest the helmet law back then, took to wearing his helmet even while driving his truck. Ended up getting pulled over for driving with his vision \”obstructed\”.

    How about everyone opposed to the helmet law, wear a bike helmet whenever you\’re not on a bike and hang it from the handlebars when riding?

    PS. Probably not a conspiracy by Bell, Giro, etc. to create more demand for their products either.

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  • Stupid helmets! July 23, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Yeah, and while we\’re at it, let\’s not wear any seatbelts either, while we\’re in a car!

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  • Joe Rowe July 23, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Everyone should be required by law be asked to wear a helmet. Don\’t want to wear a helmet, no problem, no judgement. Live free and die as they say out East. But expect to get a small fine and fight it in court. And if you get in a costly injury with no helmet the taxpayers will pay to save you then hire collection agents and have your pay deducted like a dead beat dad.

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    It\’s \”Live Free OR Die\”. It\’s the state motto of New Hampshire.

    Another great one is \”Don\’t Tread on Me\”.

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  • steve July 23, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    This law will only be used when you get creamed by a car. A drunk, unlicensed driver mows you down. Sorry! Your fault, no helmet!

    Even if they drive over your head and split you into numerous pieces with their hood. You lawbreaker! No helmet!

    I would not be surprised if insurance companies, lawyers, or auto associations are heavily encouraging this bill.

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  • JJ July 23, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I wrote to the senator. I agree that money would be better spent making all roads more conducive for bikes and other folk making their way without a car. Though I now live out of state, I am a once and future (when I retire) Portlander. For Myra: I recently bought a new bike helmet. There is a next of kin tag IN THE HELMET. Of course, it says something like fill this out in case you are unconscious or something like that. Helmets, like seat belts and flotation devices, have their limits.
    I\’m really shocked at people drawing a connection between socialized medicine and helmetless riders. It doesn\’t matter if you have socialized or private insurance or if you become a taxpayer\’s burden: your brain will be just as injured (or not). So get that red herring argument out of here. By that same slippery slope logic, we should get all cars off the streets immediately to save lives. Ooooh. Hey.

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  • Brian July 23, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Hey post 58, so uninsured, unhelmeted bikers who wreck shouldn\’t be taken care of in emergency rooms? What if someone comes in with a broken elbow? Were they so stupid to not wear elbow pads? Do they not deserve treatment either? Life is full of risk. And if looking back at last years bike fatalities proves anything, a helmet wouldn\’t have saved hardly any of them. Let\’s get government to stop treating us like kids.

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  • wsbob July 23, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    From Senator Floyd Prozanski, when might we hear more specific details about his reasons for believing a mandatory bike helmet use law is needed?

    Of course, he must have had some specific details in mind if he thought he was prepared to make an announcement of his intention to prepare such legislation. I\’ll bet more people than myself would like to hear what they are. Senator Prozanski, please let us know your thought on this issue.

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  • William July 23, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Interesting insight for those of us who are \”out of state\” and may see this debate soon in our statehouses.
    Anecdotally: I have worked in ERs and saw a dramatic drop in head trauma to motorcyclists after a helmet law was enacted for that class of road users. I realize the speed of motorcycles and the quality of helments differ from cyclists.
    I have worn a bicycle helment since the late 1970\’s and only needed it once, but that was enough, hard shell and all, I still spent two days in a neuro-unit.
    I was in Eugene when a fine young man, David Minor, I think was his name, was killed in bike vs. car near UoO. The cycling community was greatly saddened. The Senator proposing this law is from Eugene, perhaps this moved him to act.

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  • Sky July 24, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Comparing seat belts to bike helmets is silly. Seat belts keep you from becoming a projectile in the event of an accident, as well as keeping you in place to maintain control of a 4000lb. missile.
    Helmets don\’t help you control your bike. They can possibly hinder your control. For example some time ago my helmet gave a hornet a place to hide while it stung me in the temple.
    I think if we are going to start saving people from themselves then we should think logically and start with things that effect the most people.
    We should then make laws to protect people from obesity #1. Then move on to women\’s high heeled shoes, everybody knows those things are dangerous!

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  • beth h July 24, 2008 at 6:55 am

    Torfinn, there\’s a guy out in the midwest I\’d like you to meet. He built my bike frame almost ten years ago but then went off his own personal deep end and now he\’s a writer. Your stuff reminds me of him. So wack, and yet so clear.

    Not enough space for my own reaction here.

    Instead, you can go here:

    …because you can write as much as you want at your own blog.
    Cheers —

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  • SkidMark July 24, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Umm……Harrison Bergeron was written by Kurt Vonnegut, you literary geniuses.

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  • toddistic July 24, 2008 at 8:49 am

    SkidMark: see post #111

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  • Cøyøte July 24, 2008 at 9:10 am

    I kinda knew this coming. Frankly it sickens me. If this law passes I will use my bike less.

    My first impulse would be to toss the effing bike into the river. Of course I would not do that, but if it so bloody dangerous to ride, I\’ll just drive.

    Please, Please, Please, contact Prozanaki and let him know this will irreparably damage the expanded use of bicycles throughout the state.

    Often pro-helmet law supporters talk of the public cost of supporting brain damaged people involved in bike crashes. What is the public cost of driving?

    In the 5 minutes it took to write this note, 11 people likely died in road deaths. The vast majority of those deaths were caused by car crashes. Wake-up, bikes are not dangerous, cars are.

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  • steve July 24, 2008 at 9:24 am

    You can\’t expect these folks to have read Vonnegut. A quick glance through this site shows virtually no critical thinking, or analytical skills.

    Let alone social satire.

    All I see is a pool of future handicapper Generals..

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  • Mia Birk July 24, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Please note that Cycle Oregon does not have an official position on the idea of legisltation for all adults to wear helmets. We do encourage riders to wear helmets on our tours.

    Mia Birk, Board Member, Cycle Oregon

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  • Leat July 24, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Hon. Sen. Prozanski,

    I was a little shocked and dismayed to learn that you have decided to promote a helmet law for adult bicyclists in Oregon. Where to begin with why this is
    a terrible idea?

    1. I ride mostly on a bike path and sidewalk to get to work. Sometimes I enjoy not wearing a helmet. I do wear a helmet when I deem it important for my own safety. If I get ticketed for this when I ride the few blocks that I do on the street, the amount of animosity
    towards the officer and government (you) will far out way any benefit towards society that my slight increase in safety might warrant.

    2. There are few things in life now that are not unregulated by the government,and bicycle riding gives me a sense of freedom. This sense of personal responsibility and freedom are every bit as essential as safety in this life.

    3. There is a lot of animosity towards bicycle riders already, simply because we are vulnerable outside of a car, you are giving police and others another tool for

    4. If safety is truly your main concern, there are many other much more important initiatives you can do that would improve bicycle safety. Please contact your local bicycle advocacy group for a list of

    Just to let you know, I will ride without a helmet in protest of this law. I think you are way out of touch with the bicycle community.

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  • steve July 24, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Have you contacted the Senator about his misrepresentation, Mia?

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  • Hart July 24, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Sweet. More tickets I won\’t be paying.

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  • Matt Picio July 24, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Mia Birk (#136) said (referring to Cycle Oregon) \”We do encourage riders to wear helmets on our tours.\”

    Respectfully, Cycle Oregon doesn\’t encourage riders to wear helmets, they *require* them.

    I\’m not arguing for or against helmets, though I am against mandatory legislation, for many of the reasons previously discussed ad infinitum on this and other threads on this site.

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  • toddistic July 24, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I\’m sure Cycle Oregon is required to do so for insurance purposes.

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  • Matt Picio July 24, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I\’m sure they are, but my point is that they don\’t \”encourage\” helmet use, because helmet use is mandatory for participation. It was emphasized at the event as well, so it\’s in practice as well as in theory.

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  • steve July 24, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I have ridden at Cycle Oregon with and without a helmet. I do not have a point, but neither do you!

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  • PdxMark July 24, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Virtually every organized cycling event requires participants to wear a helmet. Mia Birk made clear that Cycle Oregon does not have an official position on the proposed legislation. If helmet requirements for organized events are an issue, then it should be addressed in those terms and not as if Cycle Oregon imposes any more helmet usage than any other organized ride.

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  • jrep July 24, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Coyote #134:
    There are approximately 43,000 deaths per year in this country on the roads. That\’s 117 per day and 4 per hour on average and less than 1/2 in five minutes. Exaggerating by a factor of 20 could lead one to question your other data and opinions. Maybe its satire?

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  • 180mm_dan July 24, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    NO! re proposed law

    A helmet is useless if one doesn\’t use the brain it protects.

    Riding home from a bar– get a ticket for not wearing a helmet.


    Everyone should ride their bike without a helmet **once a in a while**– It\’s a real joy in this world.

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  • Thom July 24, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    aaaaand this is why I\’ve mostly stopped reading comments here.

    Floyd Prozanski is one of the best friends you have as a cyclist in this state.

    I\’ve ridden with him on a few occasions, and he cares deeply about the safety of cyclists. He lost one of his good friends, Jane Higdon, under the wheels of a truck on the roads of the Lorane Valley three years ago, and he, like all of us, was torn to pieces by her loss.

    A helmet couldn\’t save her, but if a helmet saves one person, is it not worth it? If it encourages at least a few people to wear helmets, isn\’t it worth it? If you get a slap on the wrist for not riding a helmet, and you make sure to wear a helmet on your next ride, are you not safer?

    Because I so often identify myself as a cyclist, I am utterly embarrassed to read so many negative comments about a simple safety law.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 24, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    FYI: I just updated this story with an important fact: Cycle Oregon does not support this law. I made a mistake on the original story and I regret the error.

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  • steve July 24, 2008 at 7:29 pm


    A mandatory helmet law for auto drivers would save lives. A mandatory helmet law for showering would save lives. A law requiring the abolition of sugar, tobacco and saturated fats would save lives.

    Your logic is terrifying sir.

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  • wsbob July 24, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Thom comment #147, I don\’t mind legislators proposing good laws, in fact I expect that of them. I do object when said individuals propose laws when there\’s little substantial reason for them.

    In his phone interview with the editor of this weblog, Floyd Prozanski, apparently, (unless Maus is witholding details for some reason…why on earth would he do that?) offered no substantial reason for why he thinks a law requiring mandatory helmet use of a helmet for everyone riding a bicycle should be implemented.

    I\’ve been trying to figure out just why he would make such an announcement without accompanying it with good, solid reasons. Also, just where do guys like him come up with ideas for such a law. Just because his good friend was run over and killed by a truck several years back, an accident in which you say, the helmet would not even have saved her life?

    \”A helmet couldn\’t save her, but if a helmet saves one person, is it not worth it?\” Thom

    This is already happening. Many, many people already recognize the benefit of protection to be gained by wearing \’the styrofoam hat\’, and wear one voluntarily. Adults are intelligent enough to figure out when the need to wear one is there for the kind of riding they do. This situation with bicycles and their riders isn\’t the same as that for motorcycles and their riders, or people in cars and seatbelts.

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  • Eileen July 25, 2008 at 1:32 am

    I have avoided this thread because I\’m undecided on this topic. I\’m not really into overlegislating and I prefer people to do things because they feel intrinsically motivated. And there is the age-old conundrum for parents and educators, how do we motivate the unmotivated? Hmmm… Good parents and teachers know that just making a rule won\’t work because as soon as you turn your back, they will break the rule. So, what to do?

    I know! I am going to use the time-honored method of instilling a sense of guilt and responsibility. For just a minute, pretend I\’m your mother,

    Goddamnit boys, put your frickin\’ helmets on. If I\’ve told you once I\’ve told you a thousand times. The human skull was brilliantly designed to protect your brain at speeds of no more than 5 miles an hour. Do you want to end up a vegetable? You might as well just stick a knife in my heart. If you love me, you\’ll wear a helmet.

    So no, I don\’t endorse any laws that would make helmets mandatory. But I would like a special law just for the people I care about. Could I have that please?

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  • Cøyøte July 25, 2008 at 6:48 am

    jrep (#145), there are other people in the world who matter that do not happen to die in the US. There were 1.2 million road deaths in 2004 according WHO.

    Perhaps we should improve road safety statistics by only counting deaths of US citizens instead just people? Would that be less satirical?

    The entire planet is being sucked into an abyss created by an obsession over the automobile. It taints our every thought and deed. A helmet law is so incredibly car-headed, it is almost hard to see.

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  • mbsf July 25, 2008 at 9:30 am

    I don\’t know if I remember it right, but in nautic law the natural-powered vehicle has the right of way before motorized vehicles (sail boats before motor boats). I think we should have something like that premise in traffic laws.
    The other thing that I see is that we need to stop to \”cutzify\” operating cars… for me it\’s like operating heavy machinery – nobody would do that while on the phone…
    Combined that means smarter accident-preventing laws for cars and drivers, not band-aid laws for cyclists!

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  • El Biciclero July 25, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I reiterate my question from above:

    Will mandatory helmet use come with mandatory education on PROPER helmet use?

    Does a seatbelt law really work? How many teenage girls do I see riding around in the front seats of cars with feet on the dash or out the window…but [improperly] wearing a seatbelt? Such a person is following the law, but is no safer than someone riding around without a seatbelt!

    How many kids (and adults!) have I seen riding around with unbuckled, loosely buckled, or seriously back-tilted helmets? I haven\’t counted, but I have seen many. Are those helmets doing them any good? Are improperly worn helmets any safer then none at all? At least some research (see my post above) suggests that an improperly worn helmet is MORE DANGEROUS than none at all.

    If a person voluntarily wears a helmet out of concern for their own safety, chances are much higher that they will take the time to learn to properly wear it. If someone is forced to wear a helmet, will they take that time? Or will they find the oldest, crummiest, cheapest piece of junk possible and slap it on their heads willy-nilly just to satisfy the law?

    I am very pro-helmet, I crashed once–ONCE–without mine (in the 7th grade) and suffered enough (thankfully not permanently!) to never leave home without it again. My crash was due to youthful indiscretion, which is why juvenile helmet laws make a little more sense, but guess what? After my crash, not only did I regret not having worn my helmet and start wearing it for every ride, I also learned about riding responsibly and carefully–and I haven\’t crashed since!

    Maybe the legislature should fund a campaign of PSA\’s–much like the anti-smoking ads I see so many of on TV–that tout the benefits of wearing a helmet and demonstrate proper use. Hey, that almost seems like a good example there: Smoking is KNOWN to kill people, and does kill way more people every year than riding without helmets does, yet it is not illegal, why is that? I\’ll bet it is because there are some giant tobacco companies that won\’t let THAT kind of safety law ever get passed. So then, why do I see so much anti-smoking info on TV? I\’ll bet it\’s because there are a couple of giant industries (Health insurance companies and quit-smoking products and service companies) who are willing to pour money into anti-smoking ad campaigns.

    It almost seems like any proposed helmet law that might be passed (because there isn\’t a giant bicycle conglomerate buying enough votes to keep it from passing) is an attempt to avoid the necessary spending on public service announcements/education, yet still look good taking the cheap way out: pass a law that most likely will make biking less safe for many.

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  • Noremac July 25, 2008 at 10:19 am

    How about we sponsor an initiative outlawing beards on politicians, two of the three Oregon politicians that I can think of keep doing things that I disagree with. Robert Liberty is doing good on the CRC project but as soon as Potter grew that beard he started supporting positions counter to mine. Anyway they\’re all just creepy.

    P.S. I have a beard but I\’m not a politician so it\’s ok.

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  • Keith July 25, 2008 at 10:26 am


    \” know! I am going to use the time-honored method of instilling a sense of guilt and responsibility. For just a minute, pretend I\’m your mother,

    Goddamnit boys, put your frickin\’ helmets on. If I\’ve told you once I\’ve told you a thousand times. The human skull was brilliantly designed to protect your brain at speeds of no more than 5 miles an hour. Do you want to end up a vegetable? You might as well just stick a knife in my heart. If you love me, you\’ll wear a helmet.\”

    Yes mame 🙂

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  • John July 25, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    This has less to do with safety than you might think. Anyone who does auto-based business has a profitable reason to inconvenience Portland\’s booming cyclist population, and politics is the cheapest way to do this.

    Senators don\’t have the kind of free time to brainstorm and push through junk like this. There\’s more to it than \”hey, wouldn\’t this be a great idea, now let\’s spend lots of time putting it together and pushing it through!\” Call him out on it. He\’s responding to pressure, all that\’s needed is more pressure from our side than he\’s getting from the other side, and he\’ll blow around the other way.

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  • Thom July 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    We could follow the logic of a law like this either way.

    On one hand, yes, it\’s potentially a slippery slope from a helmet law to us living in cages like veal as we infantilize the American public.

    We could also abolish all laws for public safety. No more seat belt laws, no more social security, no more public health, no more public health. Did your wife die because she ate some rotten meat from Jack in the Box? That\’s your own fault for not testing it yourself. Oh, you want a LAW to mandate safety testing? Shouldn\’t you or companies have enough sense to do that yourself? You\’re a grown-up. Quit infantilizing America, you Safety Nazi!

    It\’s an ever-moving line as to where the government should step into the lives of its private citizens for their own good, and a frickin\’ helmet law for cyclists seems a pretty minor intrusion to help people establish good habits as cycling increases popularity in our country.

    Is this the most important piece of legislation in Oregon? No one is arguing that. I would argue that effort would be better spent on infrastructure and education and public health and about 10 million other things. What seems more likely? That your public elected officials are COMPLETELY STUPID or that they\’re simply being pragmatic?

    Is this even the most important piece of cycling legislation? Hell no. Safe bike infrastructure seems a much more important priority. But a helmet law is a step in the right, realistic direction of encouraging people to do the right thing for the culture we have now.

    Wear a helmet. It outta be a law.

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  • huss July 25, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Please, this is the last freedom I have. Might as well make us have plates and all, tags, insurance, inspections, 7-day waiting period to buy a bike. Lets see what else can we do to screw over bikers. If you want to wear one, do it, if not, dont. Oh yea shut up.

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  • steve July 25, 2008 at 1:18 pm


    until your last two paragraphs you were actually making my point for me.

    Your only justification for supporting this, is that there are 10 million other things that would be better, but you don\’t feel are likely to pass, so hey why not just do something! Even if it does not work.

    Even if it will likely be used to simply harass the homeless, as evidence shows in other cities. Even if it discourages bicycle usage, as has been shown in other cities. To heck with thinking, just pass me a law! Any law!

    With thinking like that, we should definitely be investing more in our schools. You and people like you scare the bejeepers out of me.

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  • huss July 25, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Other thing we should think about

    3rd Brake light
    Hazzard flashers


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  • steve July 25, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Oh, and since you asked, I feel our public elected officials are indeed completely stupid. I also feel that they are terrified of losing their tenuous grip on power and will desperately pander to the masses whenever it benefits them.

    Car drivers will love this bill, and cyclists clearly loathe it. If you think drivers will flock to it out of a concern for safety of cyclists, then you sir are even dumber than you sound.

    But by all means, please continue to tell us how you support a law that by your, and the shmarmy little senators own words, will likely not help anyone. It is amusing to no end!

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  • huss July 25, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Did everyone email this guy?

    Do it!

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  • El Biciclero July 25, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Here\’s another example. Pardon me if this is crude:
    Sex between minors is a crime (statutory rape, rape in the third degree). Yet the schools (government), assuming that \”kids will be kids\” will hand out condoms and provide birth control and counseling to aid and abet the commission of 3rd degree rape. Such rapes can cause trauma to the victims and sometimes even result in (depending on your view of abortion) murder of innocents. Yet the government promotes it by claiming there are \”safe\” ways to commit rape. If this is the government\’s stand on this crime, essentially, \”they\’re going to do it anyway so we might as well try to make it safer\”, why can\’t that same logic be applied to the helmet situation? \”They\’re going to ride naked-headed regardless of what we say, so we might as well try to make cycling conditions safer for them.\”


    Drug possession is illegal. Drug use kills people by overdose and by use of dirty needles. But we want to hand out clean needles to those that are going to participate in illegal activities anyway, just to make it as safe as possible.

    Why does society/government essentially aid and abet \”criminals\” in some situations, yet seek to criminalize the activities of responsible adults in others?

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  • Chris July 25, 2008 at 1:31 pm


    We\’re not talking about allowing companies to sell rotten meat. Consumer protection is a good thing, especially when it is otherwise impossible or difficult to know what is safe or not.

    The bike helmet debate, while there is some question of usefulness usually comes down to freedom vs safety. Most research says they\’re a good thing, we\’re not requiring people to buy lab culturing equipment to test their hamburger.

    An analogy I like better is the Jalapeño scare. There is a relatively low risk of any one pepper infecting me. Should I be allowed to make the decision to weigh the risks of eating the pepper vs the rewards? A tasty (but hot) treat might outweigh the dangers, knowing that I would probably not die. Others with compromised immune systems (age or disease related) would likely choose to stay well away from them.

    Personal choice anyone?

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  • Graham July 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm


    A more valid analogy to a helmet law might be: your wife choked on her Jack in the Box burger, so we\’re going enact legislation mandating that you chew your food 36 times before swallowing.

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  • Zaphod July 25, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    T-Bird #48 articulated a very compelling argument against this law.

    I personally roll with styrafoam but also understand that ridership increases without such laws/obstacles making riding more involved/complicated. This ridership increases my safety as well as the safety of others. While catastrophic head injuries make for powerful and emotional anecdotes, it appears that the common good is best served without this law.

    I certainly strongly recommend that people always strap on the helmet technology but making it a law is a different thing entirely.

    I also recommend people eat blueberries when in season. Maybe we need a law… hmmmm.

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  • Thom July 25, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I\’m pretty sure that seatbelt PSAs were fairly ineffective at getting people to buckle up until they started running the \”Click It or Ticket\” campaign. Helmets, like seatbelts, are a good idea, and the law provides a little negative incentive to drive home the point. Wear a helmet.

    Being against this is like the NRA coming out against trigger locks. Trigger locks had never been legislated before, but they are a positive step for safety. But the NRA? Oh no. People are going to die in their homes because Sally Homeowner can\’t unlock her .45 fast enough. Johnny Citizen may think twice about buying a gun because he has to spend an extra $10 on a trigger lock. And why waste time with trigger locks, anyway? Isn\’t the REAL problem the lack of drug enforcement?

    The thought is, if trigger locks prevent a few accidental deaths or shootings, then the small cost and the small intrusion into your freedoms is worth it for the greater good. A little bit like wearing a helmet.

    You may commence twisting my argument by saying that I said that a cyclist without a helmet is like a loaded gun. I didn\’t. I made a point about why we make public safety laws, and drawing a parallel to an organization that you likely hate. Fighting this law shows that the \”cycling community\” is now making selfish, myopic decisions just like all the other political movements out there rather than making its own membership safer.

    Perhaps a 28th amendment to ride freely on two wheels, unencumbered by a helmet?

    I get that it is freedom vs. safety. Where I so obviously disagree is that wearing a helmet is so basic that a law about it is not an imposition on my freedoms. Yes, I\’m willing to trade freedom for security on the matter of wearing a bike helmet. Perhaps I deserve neither freedom nor security for feeling this way. Apparently, on the issue of bike helmets, in your eyes, I am a safety nazi. So be it.

    Wear your helmet. It oughta be a law.

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  • Donna July 25, 2008 at 6:29 pm


    Since a person is far more likely to experience traumatic head injury as a pedestrian than as a cyclist, I do not understand why you aren\’t more adamant about a helmet law for pedestrians. If you are truly as concerned about the safety of your fellow citizens as you say you are, why not focus on the group who is at greater risk?

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  • Donna July 25, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Perhaps I deserve neither freedom nor security for feeling this way.
    Since studies have shown motorists drive more dangerously around helmeted cyclists, perhaps you\’re correct.

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  • steve July 25, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Yup, ride your bike two blocks to the grocery store..WEAR A HELMET!

    Hop on the springwater for a slow leisurely dawdle…WEAR A HELMET!

    And so forth.

    I don\’t think Thom even believes what he is saying. Sounds like he enjoys stirring the pot a bit and is being a touch contrarian. Just fine with me, until a person with actual authority behaves the same way. Then it is time to vote the bums out.

    Really Thom, we are all waiting on your opinion of a mandatory helmet law for pedestrians and motorists. More lives would be saved than for cyclists. After all, that is the point right? Right?

    Or did you ever have one? Keep following your shepherd you sad little sheep!

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  • Cøyøte July 25, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Thom, you trigger lock analogy is messed up. With an expanded helmet law, you are not asking Sally Homeowner to buy a trigger lock. You are telling her neighbor to wear bullet proof vest.

    Bikes are not dangerous, cars are.

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  • Cøyøte July 25, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Has anyone received a response from Floyd?

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  • Thom July 25, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    So, in reading all these studies of helmet use and cycling prior to 1996:

    Helmet laws kill. Helmet wearers crash more often than non-helmet wearers. Cars drive more dangerously around helmet wearers.

    Yet most of us wear helmets. Peculiar. steve was right, I AM stupid!

    But if the models and phone surveys and hospital discharge papers say that\’s what happens, it must be right!

    I stand corrected: Don\’t wear your helmet if the government tells you to. It will kill you!

    *damn cold. I wouldn\’t be having this conversation if I\’d gone to work today…*

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  • Joe Rowe July 25, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    post #126 \” It doesn\’t matter if you have socialized or private insurance or if you become a taxpayer\’s burden: your brain will be just as injured (or not).\”

    i, joe, was saved by a helmet. I\’d like to hear other stories like that.

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  • same as post #74 July 26, 2008 at 2:06 am

    this thread got boring and way too wordy.

    helmets are good, stupid laws are bad. it should be our choice.

    the price of TRUE freedom means you might (and probably will) pay for some one else\’s bad choice, period.

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  • Donna July 26, 2008 at 2:34 am

    You still haven\’t explained why you\’re not pushing for a pedestrian helmet law, Thom. It would prevent far more brain injuries, after all.

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  • Erik Sandblom July 26, 2008 at 5:10 am

    There\’s a big difference between a motorcycle helmet law and a bicycle helmet law. If people ride motorcycles less because of the law, their health won\’t degrade. But if people cycle less, their health will likely worsen.

    Asking people to get exercise in their free time is ineffective, because few have the discipline and enthusiasm to find the time. Bicycling to work is a more effective way of getting exercise in the long run.

    John Pucher cites the British medical Association: an hour of cycling prolongs life by more than one hour, including the risk of accidents.

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  • Eileen July 26, 2008 at 9:45 am


    It is my understanding that the skull does an adequate job of protecting your brain when you are travelling at speeds of less than 5 mph. I know runners go faster than that, but they don\’t have the momentum of a bike and can slow/stop much more quickly. Also, when pedestrians fall or are hit, I think they are more likely to suffer broken arms and legs, but because of the way you are situated on a bicycle, you are more likely to go head first. I\’m not 100% sure on that, but it just seems like you are less stable on a bike. If you want, we can stage a contest where I am on my feet and you are on your bike and someone tries to push us over, then we can see what happens.

    I have actually seen people put their toddler children in helmets for playground play – I personally thought my kids could use a little dumbing down so I never went for that. Who wants to raise a smart kid after all – they are just pains in the ass!

    Kidding aside, I teach middle school and every spring we are subjected to this dreadful assembly presented by trauma nurses. I know it was a biased presentation, but it was horrifying enough to convince me that helmets ARE important. No, they won\’t save you every time, but they can prevent brain damage. I mean, if you\’re going to have horrible injuries, keeping your brain intact would be nice. If they are survivable injuries, but you suffered head trauma, the rest of your life is going to suck.

    So, the arguments about the safety or importance of helmets are ridiculous. Of course you are safer with a helmet. Of course you should wear one. You should wear one for the people you love, including yourself. If you are a mother, father, daughter, son, favorite uncle, husband, girlfriend, or best friend to anybody special, then wear a helmet.

    Should there be a law making them mandatory? No, I don\’t think so. For one thing, a law like that is anti-darwinian. We are messing with the evolution of the species by protecting the stupid and stubborn. (I\’m kidding!)I do think minor children should not be allowed to make that decision and that law should remain. But for adults, you should be doing it for the right reasons, not because somebody made you.

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  • steve July 26, 2008 at 1:04 pm


    I hear about these pushy trauma nurses and their fear mongering regularly. I am curious if they spend an equal, or greater (or any!) amount of time telling little Johnny and Susie how the most likely way they will die, until their 27th birthday or so, is in a car.

    Perhaps from a traumatic head injury. That is why professional racecar drivers wear helmets. Little Johnny and Susie will be waaaay more likely to die in their parents cars than while riding a bike. If they should die while walking or riding, it will most likely be because a CAR kills them. Not because they fall off their bikes and hit their head.

    It is cars we should be programming our youth to be terrified of. Not cycling. And let me tell you how much a styrofoam hat helps when you are hit by a car. Not too damn much. Which is why people hit by cars with helmets on frequently DIE. Just like people without helmets on. The common factor is not the helmet, it is the CAR!

    And yet, the schools, nurses and teachers are busy making them scared of riding their bikes. Great agenda ya\’ll have there.

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  • wsbob July 26, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    \”I know it was a biased presentation, but it was horrifying enough to convince me that helmets ARE important.\” Eileen

    Biased? You mean bias, on the part of health care providers, in their efforts to educate young kids and thus possibly save them and those that love them from unnecessary pain and misery by simply encouraging kids to wear a bike helmet? Great! By all means, lets have much, much more of that kind of bias.

    You didn\’t describe what was \”…dreadful…\” about the assembly, or whether it served to misinform students about what protection bike helmets can realistically provide them. If it did, as a teacher, you\’d be well advised to approach the presenters about that. I\’d be more inclined to think the presenters sought to provide the kids with a realistic view of the dangers around them. What possible reason would they have to do otherwise? A modest use of images depicting bandages or a little blood wouldn\’t be excessive for instructional purposes.

    People of all ages need to learn what any kind of safety gear they may be inclined to use, can realistically do to protect them. A bike helmet is capable of offering a limited amount of very valuable protection under certain situations no one can always predict the timing of. Kids and adults both are well advised to consider that. I imagine Karl Hugo\’s family is really wishing he\’d been wearing a bike helmet during his collision with the truck.

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  • steve July 26, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Well Bob,

    We could also spend time terrifying youngsters of the dangers of shoving an ungloved hand into a blender. I am sure there are some pictures of one handed kids we could wave about.

    To me the trouble is we are scaring them away from a comparatively safe activity, while glossing over, or outright ignoring vastly more dangerous activities.

    Triage comes to mind. As does, put your good where it will do the most. Bicycles are not dangerous or unsafe. Cars are.

    Helmets do not protect you from cars.

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  • Eileen July 26, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Bob, Dreadful and horrifying as in stories and pictures that would break your heart and make you want to puke. And I guess I sounded like I didn\’t think it was a good assembly. Let\’s say it was very powerful, but not enjoyable.

    Steve, if you are wearing a lap and shoulder belt in your car with airbags, I think that something heavy would have to fall on the car for head trauma to be your major worry. Maybe from things flying around the car. I am curious to see the statistics about the likelihood of dying in a car crash vs. on a bicycle. To be fair, the statistics would have to compare deaths per mile travelled or deaths per hours of travel or something like that. And yes, good point, cars are a major danger to cyclists – hence, cyclists should wear helmets.

    But I don\’t want it to be illegal for you to go helmetless. I think you would be wise to choose to wear a helmet, but if you don\’t want to, then don\’t. Your mom might not be happy about that, but I\’m willing to bet you\’re a grown man.

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  • Eileen July 26, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Oh, one more thing Steve. The blender analogy is not very good because no one actually needs to be told not to do that – one look at what the blender will do to a tomato is plenty and not too abstract to translate if that were your hand…\” Even a very young child has a healthy built-in fear of sticking your hand in a blender. But kids feel safe on their bikes and don\’t see adults wearing helmets and don\’t really understand the dangers that are out there. Scare tactics work great on middle school kids by the way. I tell them all the time how they better do their homework because the kids in China are doing theirs. lol.

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  • Keith July 26, 2008 at 6:34 pm


    \”I imagine Karl Hugo\’s family is really wishing he\’d been wearing a bike helmet during his collision with the truck.\”

    I am sure Sweet Family of McMinnville
    feels the same way today after Debra\’s little crash Friday.

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  • Thom July 26, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Because, Donna, we can make the logical leap that if helmet laws kill cyclists, imagine what those $25 fines and PSAs would do to poor pedestrians. It\’d probably end the human race!

    Don\’t you get it? I\’m totally convinced. Thank God we found that study!

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  • wsbob July 26, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    For all of you that may think like steve does:

    \”We could also spend time terrifying youngsters of the dangers of shoving an ungloved hand into a blender.\” steve

    Why would any responsible educator concerned about the welfare of middle school aged kids (11,12, 13) rapidly approaching adulthood consider doing something like that? Why would any intelligent person consider a horror movie entertainment idea like that to be comparable to material a responsible educator would show them regarding the reality associated with deciding not to wear appropriate safety gear for the mode of transportation they choose to use?

    \”To me the trouble is we are scaring them away from a comparatively safe activity, while glossing over, or outright ignoring vastly more dangerous activities.\” steve

    Who is \”…we…\”? Must be a member of some group steve belongs to. What group would that be? For that matter, who is being scared away from riding bikes by suggestions made that in certain riding situations, it\’s worthwile to wear a bike helmet for safety reasons?

    I really don\’t think any of that is happening at all. What I do think, is that in conjunction with various forms of encouragement directed towards people to wear bike helmets for safety protection while riding a bike, they\’re learning about and becoming aware of hazards to be encountered in negotiating traffic on streets and roads. Those dangers are what people are afraid of, with good reason.

    Changes need to be made to street infrastructure to minimize those dangers, but doing so will not eliminate the potential for collisions, crashes and resulting impacts that go along with certain types of riding conditions that people riding bikes for transportation will encounter. The ability to anticipate the likelihood of encountering those kinds of conditions and being able to wisely decide whether they warrant the use of a bike helmet is what people need to be educated about.

    The people I know and can think of that advocate wearing a bike helmet while riding a bike, work hard to help those they\’re advising, understand the practical abilities and limitations of a bike helmet.

    None of them go around spreading some myth that bike helmets \”…protect you from cars\” Actually, steve is the only person I can think of that\’s suggested they\’ve somehow been told that wearing a bike helmet while riding a bike can protect you from cars.

    A bike helmet can help protect you, your head and the brain inside it from a modest impact possibly resulting from a collision with a car, or other kinds of vehicles and objects.

    Without the helmet, a person has nothing but the hair on their head or some soft hat they may have chosen to wear on the day they happen to crash. Think about that for a little while…do any of you seriously think a bike helmet(also derisively known as \’the styrofoam hat\’) will offer you less or little more protection from an impact than a cool looking bandanna or traditional cycling cap?

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  • wsbob July 26, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Bummer, about the McMinnville girl, Debra Lee Sweet\’s crash. 25 years old. I certainly hope she\’s got a good prognosis and gains a full recovery.

    \”A McMinnville woman, speeding down a steep hill without a helmet, suffered critical head injuries Friday when she flew off her bike at Lower City Park and landed head first in Cozine Creek.\”

    later in the article:

    \”She was unconscious,\” Markham said.

    \”She had a deep cut on her scalp.

    \”I just talked to her and rubbed her arm. She was having a hard time breathing.\”

    Markham said, \”The kids were scared, but it was a good lesson for them. No matter how old you are, you should wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.\”

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  • Eileen July 26, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    It just occurred to me and I\’m wondering if people would be willing to answer informally and even anonymously.

    1) do you a)always b) usually, c) sometimes d) never
    wear a helmet when riding your bike?

    2)How old are you?

    3)Are you married?

    4)Do you have children and if so, how old?

    I\’m just curious if this helmet/no helmet thing is somewhat of a maturity/responsibility issue and if some of your tunes wouldn\’t change if you had little people depending on you to be alive tomorrow.

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  • SkidMark July 27, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Yeah, Eileen because all parents are sooooo responsible (I say this as a step-parent). And I don\’t see how a piece of paper that says you are committed to someone makes you more mature or committed considering the high divorce rates and infidelity. And age is just a number. There are plenty of young people who are much more responsible than some that are in middle age.

    I\’ve been wearing a helmet since I raced BMX so something like the last 26 years. Not all of the time but most of the time. It has saved me more than once. Oddly enough I haven\’t landed on my head while not wearing a helmet (yet), maybe I ride more carefully knowing I can be more seriously hurt. Maybe that is the measure of maturity, paying a little extra attention when you are taking a risk.

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  • eileen July 27, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    well skidmark (a name that screams \”I\’m responsible!\”=)) I hope you didn\’t take my comments to mean that single people without children are necessarily irresponsible and certainly that is NOT the case. I just think that a typical response to becoming a parent is a shift in values, different feelings about the future and an urgent need to stay alive for your children and to keep your children alive. It\’s not universal, I understand, but surveys and statistics are all about generalizations. The deeper point I wanted to make is that, when you have less at stake, it\’s easy to rationalize away the safety benefits of a bike helmet. But being self-righteous loses its romance and staying alive is of paramount importance when you love somebody so intensely and know how devastating your death would be to them.

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  • SkidMark July 27, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Because wearing out your back tire is sooo irresponsible? Or is your mind on bathroom humor? That\’s mature.

    I think most people that are against helmet laws are against having the freedom to decide for themselves taken away. They don\’t want to be criminalized because it is a beautiful hot day and they want to feel the wind in their hair. They don\’t feel like being parented by the government.

    I also worry that a helmet can provide a false sense of security for inexperienced riders who may equate a helmet with being safe from harm.

    I\’m not \”rationaliz(ing) away the safety benefits of a helmet\” if I am saying that my life has been saved more than once by wearing one.

    \”If a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.\” Anthony Burgess

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  • Joe Rowe July 27, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I always wear a helmet, always have. My ability to walk has been saved 2 times by a helmet. My sister also saved by an original bell helmet. I was a bike courier in Chicago in 1985, before helmets were common or comfortable on bikes and before being a courier was hip. One should never do or not do something for safety based on it being \”comfortable\” or how it appears to others. This is even more true if the life saving action is to help one\’s own safety.

    I keep hearing this false rumor that wearing a bike helmet puts cyclists more at risk to cars for various reasons. Some of those false reasons are that the driver and cyclist can\’t have the full eye contact and interaction as without a helmet. The list of undocumented reasons not to wear a helmet flows like Bush lies, because I said it was true.

    The only reason to select not to wear a helmet is being self centered. If folks don\’t want to wear a helmet, that is their choice. But that choice causes a lot of harm for the team. I see no proof to show that riding without a helmet helps society.

    I\’m a teacher and this style of saying \”I learn better in a classroom when I\’m wearing an iPod\” is often more disruptive than the rule violation alone. I can\’t say how much time is wasted from students who think they deserve a listening ear when they repeatedly break rules that halt teamwork.

    The point is this: It is clear that the volume of helmet haters here is high, and no dialog is going to change their minds. So let\’s work on helping people who still have an open mind and a goal of teamwork.

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  • steve July 27, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Ahhh, teachers and mothers.

    It is becoming more clear every day how the world would be a much better place with a few less of both.

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  • Keith July 27, 2008 at 3:48 pm


    \”\”Ahhh, teachers and mothers.

    It is becoming more clear every day how the world would be a much better place with a few less of both.\”

    It\’s becoming clear that you\’ve have neither. Or at least quality of each. You are starting to sound like the Trix commercials \”silly adults, bikes are for kids\”. Ahh wasted on the young. The Darwin awards can be very patient.
    Stevy, your only invincible until your not.

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  • eileen July 27, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks Steve, I appreciate that. As a mother and a teacher, I\’m overwhelmed by your support. Someday when my kids are wiping your snotty nose when you\’re in a nursing home because of brain injuries, I sincerely hope you appreciate the effort I put into helping them to be caring individuals. And when my son extends the life of the earth through his innovations in the use of steam energy (at age 4, he\’s already plotting), I hope you enjoy your nightlight. Please tell me, how would the world you envision without teachers and mothers function? I\’d love to hear your vision of utopia because I work my ass off and have made tremendous personal sacrifice trying to make responsible citizens for the future of our world and if you have a less toil-free method of raising them up right, please share.

    By the way, it appears you didn\’t read what I wrote. I am not in support of a law mandating helmets! I just think you\’d be better to wear one and was trying to point out that you are kidding yourself if you think you\’re safer without one. I am all about freedom and natural consequences.

    Apparently this struck a nerve. Are you a member of the \”me\” generation with a higher percentage of narcissists than ever in history? Do you have difficulty understanding how the choices you make affect others? Is it hard to hear that you are being selfish and thoughtless by putting your own life in danger? Do you wish to float through life never having to worry about anyone except yourself? Honestly, the more I think about your careless statements, the angrier I get and I think I just need to walk away from this thread.

    skidmark, I have no beef with you and I\’m pretty much done here, but if you have to know, yes,when I hear \”skidmark\” only one thing comes to mind and it\’s not about your back tire. I can\’t imagine that\’s the name you use to command respect in a job interview and I was joking with a little smiley face on the end when I said it didn\’t sound responsible – do you really think it does??? Sorry if I\’m the first person to tell you that. I didn\’t ever say that YOU were irresponsible because I don\’t know you and I wouldn\’t ever say that about someone I don\’t know. It sounds like you wear a helmet most of the time and that\’s great. When I was camping a few weeks back I rode the trails at the campground without a helmet, so I\’m not perfect either. But I couldn\’t do that in traffic with cars around. I used to when I was younger. I also used to drive too fast and do a lot of other stupid things. Then I became a parent and I wear a bike helmet and drive like an old lady.

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  • Zaphod July 27, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Posting on a bike site with a handle called \”skidmark\” is a nod to the simple joy of locking up the rear wheel and getting sideways.

    As a kid I used to lay down big swoopy skid marks all day long. I dropped a few on my road bike recently until I realized that the expensive high performance tires can wear to nothing after only a handful of skids.

    I am anti helmet law but I always wear the thing, even if it\’s a simple test ride to make sure whatever bike maintenance I have done is all dialed and perfect. I\’ve heard too many stories about people riding some huge technical scary ride only to eat it and bleed all over the trailhead parking lot. While I\’m with family these days, I\’ve been pretty vigilant since college days.

    While a law is a bad idea, I do want to inform those who maybe haven\’t had their hands on a nice high-end helmet of recent vintage. Designs are such that they are *way* lighter, *way* more comfortable, and *way* more ventilated… way. I\’d be willing to bet that your head is significantly cooler with such a helmet on when the sun is out than without. The engineers at Bell & Giro are busy trying to make their stuff better and it shows.

    I\’m only trying to inform here.

    Certainly many will balk at the price tags on some of these things. The good news is that the technology found in the >$100 helmets of two years back now exists on sub $50 helmets of today.

    I\’m just saying that a crappy helmet from the last century is nothing like current technology.

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  • wsbob July 27, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    (We interrupt this conversation with news from the fair city to the north…Seattle to be exact, in regards to an incident involving that city\’s Critical Mass group and a person driving a car:

    Here\’s a few links to get you going(sorry if I don\’t get the link code right!):

    CM, car driver confrontation…The Stranger

    Mob of bicyclists attack, injure driver in Seattle

    CM riders injure driver in Capital Hill Altercatin…Seattle Times

    Why did violence erupt at Cm ride in Seattle?…Seattle Times

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  • wsbob July 27, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Note:! Just realized the Stranger story was for an incident on June 30th. Next on the list is an Oregonian story(interesting that the O would use the word \’mob\’, while the paper in the city where the incident occurred refrained from doing so…maybe the staff just didn\’t think of it.). The last story listed has material from the third story down, but is longer and more in depth…better.

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  • eileen July 27, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    lol Zaphod. But I think his friends call him that too. Anyway, I am better now and I think I was taking out my ire towards Steve on Skidmark. My apologies skidmark, it\’s a perfectly lovely name, if only I\’d heard it 4 years ago, my son might have been named skidmark.

    My kids just made me watch Peter Pan for the 10 billionth time and I was reminded once again that we must be living in Neverland since this town is full of lost boys.

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  • steve July 27, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Ahh paternalistic condescension. Always does a boy good.

    I love people who think contributing to overpopulation is a virtue.

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  • eileen July 28, 2008 at 5:54 am

    So you\’d prefer there be no next generation Steve? Or should only people in 3rd world countries have babies and the western world will slowly degenerate to nothing… what, as our punishment for driving cars? Steve, every comment you\’ve made on this thread has been condescending and downright rude. I haven\’t heard a single constructive thing you\’ve said except to point out how others are stupid. I\’m sorry for whatever tragedies you\’ve suffered that have turned you into such an unpleasant person. I hope you find the therapy you need.

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  • toddistic July 28, 2008 at 6:56 am

    eileen, shouldnt you be watching your kids instead of spending endless hours in front of the computer?

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  • kg July 28, 2008 at 6:58 am

    \”Ahhh, teachers and mothers.

    It is becoming more clear every day how the world would be a much better place with a few less of both.\”

    WTF???? I\’ve read some really stupid posts but I think this takes the prize.

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  • wsbob July 28, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Toddistic, what do you know about how much time Eileen is spending in front of the computer, and anyway, what business is it of yours? You sound like a kid (but it\’s doubtful you\’re one of hers): \’mommy, mommy, I want ice cream, now!\’.

    To Eileen, I say that if you really are a middle school teacher, then you probably know a little bit about how the developing adolescent mind works. Why not use that knowledge and put your energy into all worthwhile comments rather than be played by an unfortunate victim of arrested development?

    Considering Senator Floyd Prozanki\’s over-exuberant legislative inclinations and the behavior of the people surrounding the Seattle CM incident on Friday, there seems to be a real need for more people capable of using restraint and maturity in the things they say and do.

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  • Keith July 28, 2008 at 9:34 am

    There seems to be cyclist of sorts that have not grown out of that suburban cul-de-sac mentality of their adolescence.
    Their attitude is that of little kids riding down their driveway into a near empty dead end court with no real need to look both ways, or playing kickball, hockey
    or basketball in the street. Then they get older and start becoming part of real traffic but never change their attitude or take responsibility of their actions still thinking that Mr. Smith from next door is watching out for him and will stop when a bike crosses his path. It\’s morbidly amusing to watch these guys (and gals) move through life not being able to see beyond there nose.

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  • SkidMark July 28, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Hi, my name is Mark and I like to skid. It is my Zoobomb nickname, given to me by an old schooler named Dirty Mark. I post with it on teh internets because that way my friends will know it\’s me talking. Obviously I use my real name at job interviews, but I am still working toward doing my own thing with bikes. I like to build them silly freakbikes, but I envision some serious singlespeed bikes of my own design in the future.

    Eileen, if you do work with teens, you know that sometime telling them what to do is the best way to guarantee that they do the opposite. There is a point where you have to start to respect them as young adults and treat them as such. You have to walk a fine line between authority figure and mentor.

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  • steve July 28, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Eileen, every comment you\’ve made on this thread has been condescending and downright rude. I haven\’t heard a single constructive thing you\’ve said except to point out how others are stupid. I\’m sorry for whatever tragedies you\’ve suffered that have turned you into such an unpleasant person. I hope you find the therapy you need.

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  • eileen July 28, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Toddistic, kids sleep a lot. I don\’t really get to go out much, I don\’t watch TV and I think this is a worthwhile blog where political issues are discussed.

    I shouldn\’t have let Steve get to me but the comment about moms and teachers was too much.

    I really do teach middle school and although this is totally off topic, the idea of how to get people to do things is very much ON topic. I definitely agree that putting it in front of them and saying you have to do this doesn\’t get good results. But there does have to be a limit, a line which you can\’t cross and if you do there\’s a consequence. But if I am to teach anything effectively, I have to convince my students WHY it is important and then there is a lot less making them do it that goes on. I think the same is true of helmets – the education efforts in the past have obviously been effective because WAY more people wear helmets now than 10, 20, or 30 years ago. We didn\’t even own helmets when I was a kid. I would like to see those efforts continue rather than pass a law mandating helmet use.

    From a government perspective, a simple mandate is certainly easier than taking the time to help people understand why it\’s important and it will generate money, but it also makes people hostile and negative about it. If our goal is a peaceful world where people treat each other with respect, then mandates won\’t be effective. They have to be choosing to wear their helmets for the right reasons.

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  • tonyt July 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    No thank you! I wear a helmet most of the time and do NOT need big mother looking out for me.

    Not the government\’s, or anyone else\’s for that matter.

    Bad idea all around.

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  • Steven M. July 28, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    wsbob and Keith,

    Regarding the news link you posted, I don\’t think I would find myself tearing down a hill at high speeds into a creek unless I was wearing some sort of stunt suit.

    What I mean is, you can avoid situations like that and ultimately a helmet doesn\’t matter.

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  • Someone July 28, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    \”Growing up\” is sort of a euphemism used by conservatives of every kind. They used that when defending a culture of conformity, seriousness, submission, squareness and fear – as opposed to risk, independence, etc.

    But they also always forget to mention that the serious, responsible, mature member of society, through their blind respect for the status quo, are the ones leading us to the not too responsible world of wars, global warming, and so many other avoidable catastrophies – if only people had some attitude. But I guess that would be too immature.

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  • wsbob July 28, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    It sounds as if Steven M is referring to the crash of McMinnville girl, Debra Lee Sweet (re; my comment #188):

    \”What I mean is, you can avoid situations like that and ultimately a helmet doesn\’t matter.\” Steven M

    They can be avoided, but for various reasons, efforts made to avoid them don\’t always work out. That\’s when a helmet really can matter.

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  • Keith July 28, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I really don\’t know the specifics of that
    incident. I am sure I could come up with a million explanations about what happened and still be wrong. By my personal impression based upon what little I know is that this person was a leisure rider who
    was out of control. A witness claimed they
    heard her scream \” I am going to fast\”. I imagine an experienced person would have forgone the screaming and applied the brakes.

    You make it sound as if it was intentional??

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  • n8m July 28, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    This must be stopped. It doesn\’t matter what side your on, it will be a double flat tire for the bicycle movement and ultimately make bicycling much much more dangerous as people stop biking b/c they don\’t have a helmet for a quick ride down the street to get some milk. Safety is in numbers, education and infrastructure — this law does not help, it only hinders.

    Either which way, I hope everyone is perpetually emailing him:

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  • Eileen July 28, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Hmmm… interesting idea \”someone\”. I am all for free thought and people who challenge the status quo. Where would we be without people like Susan B Anthony and Rosa Parks? But I would say that they were still grown-ups because they were thoughtful and respectful. Acting in a totally impetuous, thoughtless, selfish manner and then calling yourself a revolutionary is pretty lame. If you want to live in a world with kindness where people are thoughtful and respectful of each other, then that\’s how you have to be.

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  • steve July 29, 2008 at 10:22 am


    Your condescension is sickening.

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  • Eileen July 30, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Hmmm…maybe you\’re right Steve, I\’ll take it under advisement. You seem like a very intelligent guy and I sure wish there were a way to have a dialogue with you without it devolving into insults.

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  • tonyt July 30, 2008 at 10:35 am

    So I\’ll throw down into this flame fest, but make it short and sweet.

    I wear a helmet, most of the time.

    Helmets are a good idea.

    BUT – I don\’t need anyone telling me when to wear it. Frankly, I really resent it.

    Do you really want to give the cops another reason to hassle cyclists?

    Those of you who are wholeheartedly pro-helmet, awesome. Wear your helmet. Rock your \”You\’d be hotter in a helmet\” sticker (which I love btw). Use all the gentle social pressure (on the people you know thank you) at your disposal.

    Those of you opposed to this law, please write the good Senator. There are much more pressing issues that he should be using his time on.

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  • nonSEhipster July 30, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I am against the helmet law, because it thwarts natural selection. In addition, there is a need for organ donation.

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  • Jeff July 30, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I support the helmet law, many of you that have posted here, don\’t seem to know what goes on behind the scenes when someone gets hit by a car and has traumatic injuries – perhaps you were riding to your GF\’s dinner date to ask her to marry you?

    Perhaps, you were invited to dinner at you mom\’s or grandmother\’s for some homestyle cooking the old fashion way? Perhaps, you were on the way to the famous beer party and BBQ of the year? Perhaps, you were just as right as you thought venturing out without a helmet would get you by safe and sound, all a sudden WHAMO – you get smacked dead center and fly over the hood, 60 feet in the air or something, than land head first in a Olympic nose dive and hit your head dead center in the middle of the road.

    Think about it, seriously! Think about the one\’s you love the most and how\’d you want to live the case for the rest of your life for a decision you made that ended the cherishes of life you had before the accident.

    Not a good spandex of choices, but the incident explained is real and deadly. I would agree that helmets would save lifes, no matter what you head hit with it on, you\’d either get a bruise or two, you end up in the wheelchair or coffin after being ID\’d by your own mother, father, sister and siblings, not to mention you future wife!

    OUCH!- that\’s gotta hurt.

    The helmet law is a powerful statement and its reality. Every day, someone, a cyclist blows through a red light with a hot date on his or her tail to get to the most important things in life, only to fail to stop at the stop light or stop sign or even the cross walk on the Fern ridge bike path in Eugene. Without you knowing it your unconcious, can\’t say a damn word or blink an eye, your pain, but your life is on the line.

    Remember, life is the most precious thing in life, be responsible or lose it, simple as that. No, helmet you regret the fact that you screwed up big time when you get to heaven, you\’ll how the hell you got there there in the first place!

    Someone would say, your nuts, you don\’t know what your talking about? Perhaps, I do, because I see it every day on the streets and those that end up in the back of my ambulance only to find out their bike died of trauma injuries of being hit by a car or worst, the drunk that failed to make the turn at the curve, only to get the telephone pole on his bike dead center – OWE!….

    The bottom line is, I support the senators efforts, seeing kids younger than age 5 without a helmet on just breaks the daylights that parents don\’t care and its their responsiblity to maintain their kids wear a helmet for protection. Yeah, I do feel and believe that the Eugene man that was killed on his bike, would have survived the ordeal had he worn a helmet on that day of his death.

    Like, I said, he\’s wondering what the hell he\’s doing in heaven right now and how that got him there.

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  • toddistic July 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Eileen @ 216

    I\’m fairly certain the white people on the bus didn\’t feel that Rosa Parks was being respectful at the time.

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  • Eileen July 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Interesting point toddistic. But she wasn\’t rude or aggressive and her point was made loud and clear. I think the point gets lost when you make an ass of yourself trying to make it (I am guilty of that as well, not saying I\’m perfect) because people just see what an ass you\’re being and miss the point.

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  • give me a break July 30, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Then Jeff, you\’ve got to also be supportive of a mandatory helmet law for pedestrians, right? After all, they are far more likely to suffer traumatic brain injury than cyclists. I really hope you are not a hypocrite and are encouraging Sen. Prozanski to add mandatory helmet use for pedestrians to any legislation he might propose.

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  • Eileen July 31, 2008 at 12:01 am

    \”they are far more likely to suffer traumatic brain injury than cyclists\”

    Far more likely relative to what? I would like to see that statement qualified because personally I don\’t believe it. It could be true, but it depends on what numbers you\’re using. Pedestrians are not in the roadway and, just falling, aren\’t going fast enough to injure their brain. bikes and pedestrians are both at risk when up against a car, but bikes share the roadway with cars and pedestrians do not. I also think pedestrians are much better at recognizing that it doesn\’t matter if they have the right of way, they still need to make sure the cars have actually seen them. Cyclists are much better at being self-righteous and then getting angry at cars for not seeing them. I believe it is possible by sheer numbers that more pedestrians die from traumatic brain injury, but I imagine there are many more pedestrians than cyclists worldwide, or even just in portland. I mean, every one of us is a pedestrian at some point pretty much every day, well, unless you\’re in a wheelchair or housebound.

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  • Gary July 31, 2008 at 6:34 am

    Just popped in to check on this issue and wanted to drop a comment. While I fully agree with the \”Nannny State\” and personal freedom comments & thoughts, I can\’t help but wonder where all of this energy was when the various Government agencies and entites impposed mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, seatbelt laws, cell phone laws, metal detectors and searches at schools, etc? It is sad that it has come to this, but it is time for this type of law…or repeal all the others and then some! (This next one will really get it hot around here, but needs to be said.) It is also time for cyclist to start paying more of their way…excise or other tax on all bikes over $200 or something, maybe tires, etc. Possibly some kind of registration, insurance requirements, other such things. The fees paid on that car you only drive a few hundred miles amonth don\’t cut it! And it is not \”hassling\” when the police enforce the laws, no more than if I get a speeding or other ticket on my motorbike or in the car. Heck, pedestrians can get tickets! If the \”State\” can impose a tax on plastic bags, they can impose helmet laws…let\’s all think about the type of society we have/are becoming.
    Gary in Vancouver

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  • steve July 31, 2008 at 10:56 am


    Your condescension is on the rise yet again. Not to mention your childish insults. Do I need to start calling you a hypocrite as well?

    \”Cyclists are much better at being self-righteous and then getting angry at cars for not seeing them\”

    Nice sentiment Eileen.

    More pedestrians die than cyclists every year. More auto drivers die than cyclists every year. These disparities are huge and relevant regardless of the numbers involved in the activities respectively.

    Is saving lives your goal? If so you should be more concerned about pedestrians and drivers. Or perhaps you should take your children out for a bike ride on this beautiful day?

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  • SkidMark July 31, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Why should we be angry about cars not seeing us. We are in the road and we belong there. \”Not seeing\” someone on a bike should get you charged with negligence.

    Bicyclists and motorcyclists routinely see debris in the road or sand on a corner and avoid it. A 2×4 block of wood in the road is a good deal smaller than an entire human on a bike, but knowing it can put you on your arse you look for it and go around it. Maybe that\’s the difference, hitting a cyclist in the safety of your tin box probably won\’t hurt you. This is also why cyclists get so upset when they have a close call, because they could have been killed. I don\’t know why car drivers don\’t get this.

    I have a hard time understanding how I can spot broken glass and go around it but a motorist can\’t see a whole person of a bicycle.

    Do you think if someone hit a child who ran out into the road that they would get any sympathy a because they \”didn\’t see him\”?

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  • Eileen July 31, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Steve, I promise you it\’s merely an observation. You rarely ever see pedestrians, who always have the right of way, step out into traffic expecting cars to stop. It would be a death wish. The fact that cyclists openly admit to blowing stop signs and signals shows that they put a lot of trust in other drivers on the road. Yesterday I was driving and stopped for pedestrians who were waiting patiently on the curb to cross while cyclists zoomed by. Even in a car, the first rule everyone learned in driver\’s ed is to not trust any cars on the road and drive defensively. EXPECT that others might mess up and make sure it\’s safe before you turn, go straight or do anything. Always be looking ahead on the road for what dangers lie in front of you – is there a car at the next intersection waiting to pull out? Even if you have the right of way, in a car, on a bike, on foot, be wary because that driver might not see you and pull out unexpectedly. In every car accident, even if you are not at fault, your insurance rates can go up because insurance companies know that really good drivers don\’t get in accidents fault or no-fault. Every once in a while there is something that was completely unavoidable, but it\’s rare.

    And the fact that more pedestrians die every year tells me nothing about the calculable risk you take each time you set out by foot or on a bike. Even if you never took statistics, I\’m sure you have some understanding of simple probability and the concept of percent.

    It seems like all I have to do is disagree and it comes off as condescension. It\’s difficult to have these conversations over the internet without ever having met because you don\’t really know where I\”m coming from or what type of person I am. We have different viewpoints and I\’m not afraid to say stuff that might make people uncomfortable if I think it\’s true. I try to do it respectfully and I wasn\’t insulting anyone before. I also don\’t claim to have all the answers, I\”m just sharing my perceptions. I appreciate the discourse and would appreciate it more if we could keep it from getting into personal attacks since you guys don\’t know anything about me really.

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  • steve July 31, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Personal attacks like this gem?

    \”Cyclists are much better at being self-righteous and then getting angry at cars for not seeing them\”

    Are you attempting to be humorous when you say that pedestrians don\’t just step out into traffic? Perhaps out in the suburbs, but you clearly have never been near the city core if you believe that.

    I also understand percentages and probabilities. However I also understand the difference between a few hundred fatalities a year and nearly 50,000. Do you?

    I know all I need to know about you from your posts. You appear to want to treat the rest of us like your children and I obviously do not respect that.

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  • El Biciclero July 31, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    What exactly would cyclists\’ \”fair share\” be paying for? A white paint line down the side of the road? That sounds expensive! For the tiny fraction of a roadway (the gutter!) that a bike uses, and for the negligible damage that a bike does to the road, the portion of income and property taxes any non-car-owning bike rider already pays for road construction/maintenance could be considered an overcharge!

    When car owners pay auto registration fees, that fee only pays for collection of the fee. No registration money pays for roads. If you want bikes to pay a registration fee to use the roads, then let\’s make it really fair: $1 per pound of GVW every two years. That would make me have to pay $2500 to register my car and about $27 to register my bike.

    When drivers pay gas taxes, they are paying in proportion to the amount of damage they do to the road and environment; more miles driven = more damage caused. Again, a 200lb combination of bike and rider does no damage compared to a ton or more of metal rolling around on snow tires (now THERE\’S a road tax waiting to be collected…).

    The reason comments like \”cyclists should pay their fair share\” draw so much ire is that cyclists are already overpaying for a less-than-fair share of the road. I suspect that the desire to have cyclists pay more money for the right to use the road comes from a \”misery loves company\” sentiment. Just remember: more power means more responsibility, whether it is political power or horsepower.

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  • Eileen July 31, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    \”Are you attempting to be humorous when you say that pedestrians don\’t just step out into traffic? Perhaps out in the suburbs, but you clearly have never been near the city core if you believe that.\”

    Nope Steve, I live fairly close-in and go downtown pretty regularly. But I can see you\’ve got me pegged. What else can you tell me about myself? I\’m curious. And how would you describe your communication style if mine is condescending? When you insult every person who has a differing viewpoint you aren\’t being condescending?

    Where do you get your numbers? It took me five minutes to find this on the web:

    For 2006
    Pedestrians: 4,784 deaths and 61,000 injuries (for the entire united states)

    pedalcyclists: 773 deaths and 44,000 injuries.

    So, about 6 times more deaths for pedestrians than cyclists. It is pretty difficult to quantify how many pedestrians, how long the trips are and how many trips compared to bicycles, especially when you consider that every time you park your car or bike and just walk from the parking lot to the store you become a pedestrian. Think about the combined total of pedestrian trips for EVERYONE and the combined total of bicycle trips. Do you really think there are only 6 times more pedestrian trips? And obviously from those numbers, cyclists are much more likely to get in an accident (the injury numbers) but less likely to be killed when they do get in an accident.

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  • SkidMark July 31, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    You also have to keep in mind that those statistics likely include sports that use bicycles, like BMX, mountain biking, and track racing. That would include X-Games-like activities performed on bicycles, and none of these activities occur on the street (most of the time).

    I have been downtown and had pedestrians step off the curb as soon as the cars all go by and before the light changes and they get their walk signal. I usually yell \”Jaywalker!\” and go around them.

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  • wsbob July 31, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Excuse me for momentarily being of topic, but:

    Hey Eileen, incidentally, aren\’t you the gal that back in spring on another thread, expressed having a lot of anxiety about riding a bike out in traffic? I\’ve been meaning to ask. Hope you\’ve made some progress with that.

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  • steve August 1, 2008 at 11:51 am

    4000 more dead per year Eileen. 46,000 more drivers dead per year Eileen.

    Put your good where it will do the most.

    Look up the word \’Triage\’.

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  • Eileen August 1, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Steve, more dead per year doesn\’t mean greater risk, it means more people walk. I thought you said you understood probability.

    Bob, yes, that was me. I have gone on a few rides and the kids and I will ride to the park, but we don\’t get far since my 4 year old is extremely attached to his big wheel. It\’s a tricky age where they are kind of too big for a trailer (which always felt so unweildy to me anyway) and not quite ready to ride on their own. If I were a stronger rider, I might attach them to me somehow, but I don\’t feel comfortable with that. So we stick to side streets and paths for now. In the summer when they are home with me all day, I don\’t get much chance to go off on my own, but every once in a while I will find an hour or two to myself and am feeling a little more confident. One of my best friends broke her arm badly (with permanent nerve damage!) in her own driveway on her bike and coming to bikeportland doesn\’t exactly help the anxiety either.

    By the way Bob, as long as we\’re calling people out. I have an uncle Bob who is an avid cyclist, works for a company that starts with a W, has too much time for surfing the internet and loves to debate. Coincidence?

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  • steve August 1, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Who cares about greater risk. Flinging yourself from an airplane without a chute is greater risk too. So what? Should we be concerned about a tiny amount of misery and suffering, or a broad swath of destruction touching nearly all of us?

    Probabilities be damned, your priorities are seriously out of whack.

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  • Eileen August 1, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Huh? What are you even talking about Steve? Your risk of being injured each time you climb on your bicycle is greater than your risk of being injured each time you walk down the sidewalk. Independent events. The percentages matter more than the numbers. I would hardly describe pedestrian deaths as a \”broad swath of destruction\”. It\’s not like we are being fire-bombed or anything.

    Your per mile risk can be ranked thusly:
    (most risky to least risky)
    1. Walking
    2. Biking
    3. driving

    your per hour risk can be ranked as (most risky to least risky)
    1. Driving
    2. Biking
    3. Walking

    So, it really depends on how far you\’re going and how often you go.

    I\’m not sure what priorities you think I have that are out of whack. Have you even noticed that I am against a helmet law? And I noticed you said you DO wear a helmet. So what are we arguing about?

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  • wsbob August 2, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Eileen, good to hear that you\’re keeping ride time and resolving anxiety about riding in mind. I\’m sure you\’ll gradually feel better the more you ride. Just another year and your child might be able to manage one of those tag-a-long rigs. I always get a chuckle when I see those being use.

    No, my blog name is just a nom de plume I made up for the fun of it. It purposely isn\’t supposed to be relate-able to anyone in particular, except maybe Bob Dylan, and that would just be wishful thinking. Didn\’t mean to sound as though I was calling you out…just hoping you\’re getting on the bike. It\’s a freedom like no other.

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  • steve August 2, 2008 at 10:07 am

    48,000 deaths a year sounds like a broad swath to me Eileen. All I am suggesting is that your latent paternalism would be better aimed at drivers, rather than chastising helmet-less riders.

    800 deaths a year.

    48,000 deaths a year.

    Percentages be damned. By my math your concerns are totally screwed.

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  • Eileen August 2, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    no, it\’s 4,800 deaths for the year 2006, 48,000 injuries. For the entire united states. Again, about 6 times as many pedestrian deaths as cyclist deaths. We\’re going in circles here Steve and I wish I could help you understand. I do offer math tutoring if you need some help.

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  • Logan5 August 2, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Debra Sweet of Mcminville, is a very good friend of mine, she was released from the hospital the other day after pulling out of a 3 day coma, she got 13 staples in her head, massive brain trauma and 8 sewtchers, she will most likely recover. she has rib fractures, and her vertabrae has pinched the nerves in her spine, at this point one wrong move will paralize her from the neck down for life. She stopped slurring, but she needs 24 hour a day care. Please pray for her.

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  • steve August 6, 2008 at 10:31 am

    48,000 people killed in cars Eileen.

    I offer reading comprehension courses if you would like?

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  • Forseti August 6, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I think the number is more like 43,000 Americans killed each year by people operating motor vehicles.

    More than 9/11.

    More than in all the years of the Iraq and Afghanistan Occupations and the rest of the fake Global War on Terror.


    That\’s ~43,000 *each year.*

    Over the last 10 years, approximately the same number of Americans were killed by people operating motor vehicles as all of the American military deaths in World War II.

    And approximately 42,999 more than the number of Americans killed by people operating bicycles.

    Please, get some perspective on the level of risk created by people who drive automobiles and who is creating the risk on our roadways.

    And, when you realize the magnitude of this public safety problem, please start thinking about how to fix it with the principle that those who create the risk need to be the ones who pay to prevent and mitigate it.

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  • wsbob August 6, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Logan5, wonderful to hear of some improvement in your friend Debra Sweet\’s health. All those injuries…they represent a lot of recovery that has to be made from something that was probably supposed to be a relaxing ride in the park.

    It\’s not something I\’m so good at, but such as it is, I\’ll definitely wing a prayer along her way.

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  • Eileen August 6, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Except that we were talking about pedestrians and whether there is any truth to the statements made earlier suggesting that walking is far more dangerous than riding a bike. I was trying to give some perspective there and cars weren\’t really part of what I was talking about. Part of that whole math thing is being able to weed out the irrelevant numbers in a story problem.

    But please, feel free to change the subject, just remember to let the rest of us know. The main thing we learn from that fact is that people overall spend WAY more time in cars than they do walking or on bikes. But the PER MILE deaths in cars is less than either. So for distance traveled, cars are actually the safer option.

    And the thing is, there HAS been a response to the number of deaths in automobiles. I\’m not sure if you\’ve bought or ridden in a car made in the last five years but safety features have increased dramatically. If we could strap you to your bicycle and put airbags all around you, I would happily bless you not wearing a helmet. But then you would just be sitting in a pedal-powered car. Hey, not a bad idea actually.

    So what do you suggest Forseti? Should we raise car registration fees to create a free helmet bank? Okay, I could go for that. Actually, I think that is a brilliant idea. Thanks for thinking of it Forseti. I mean, it shouldn\’t be a long-term solution to replace increasing separate facilities and other types of infrastructure, but I think it would go a LOT further to increase helmet use over passing a law making it mandatory. I mean, if you knew that you could get a $50 gift certificate from the DMV good towards buying a helmet, wouldn\’t you feel better about using it than if you were just told you had to? Thank you so much for that great idea Forseti! Let\’s get it on the ballot!!!

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  • Forseti August 7, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Please count me among those who do not care to participate further in this discussion due to the tone of some of the participants.

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  • steve August 7, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I agree, it is like talking to a child.

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  • Eileen August 7, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Steve, if you want to talk about issues, let\’s do that. If you want to respond with reasonable logic to things I say that you disagree with and a certain level of respect, this would go a lot further. Try to actually read the things I\’ve said open-mindedly and respond specifically to what you think doesn\’t make sense. Your current technique of insulting everyone seems designed to stir things up, it\’s as though you thrive on conflict. And I have fallen for it because you got personal with me. I don\’t like the tone of some of my posts, but I was pretty upset by comments you made when I was writing them. I don\’t usually get in these kinds of debates on here and I\’ve noticed that you do. That your main response to anyone you disagree with is somehow insulting – you rarely keep it about the issues. I wonder if you could make a comment that doesn\’t include a put-down of one sort or another and people will not only listen to you, but respect you more. The ironic piece here is that if you actually read my posts, philosophically we are not that different in regards to helmets and it actually felt to me like you didn\’t read much of what I wrote because the way you often responded on here was as though I had said or believed things that I never said or believed. Being misunderstood AND insulted can be very frustrating and I responded out of frustration on many posts. I can become very sarcastic when backed into a corner and I honestly apologize for anything snarky I said.

    Forseti, when I was responding to you, I was speaking somewhat tongue in cheek, but I actually was very sincere and I\’m sorry if that was misinterpreted by you. I have felt a little attacked here and also it seemed my posts were responded to without having been read. I really don\’t know what else I can say except that you guys don\’t really know me and I can promise you that whatever idea you currently have in your head, I\’m almost sure that you are way off.

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  • steve August 7, 2008 at 5:09 pm


    From my perspective it is you who have not read or responded to peoples questions of you.

    Numerous posters have made very valid points without critiquing your sensitive personality, and you have not bothered to respond to them either.

    It is difficult to interact with someone who spews hyperbole, then refuses to respond to direct statements and questions. You have engaged in that type of back and forth with everyone who disagrees with you.

    Sorry to burst your bubble of self-righteousness. At least I know when I am behaving badly!

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  • Eileen August 7, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I think if you read Steve, I apologized for things I said, so apparently I do know when I\’m behaving badly. It seems you were unable to leave out the put-down.

    It is not about not responding because I don\’t expect everyone to have time to sit and read and respond to everything – I don\’t. It is about responding without having actually known what I said or assuming things I must think that I never said I thought. If I actually responded to something someone else wrote, I was responding to what they wrote. Without a doubt, I am too sensitive, but I am also too logical. There is no bubble of self-righteousness and I will admit when I am wrong if someone can use logic to convince me. I have had conversations in private with friends who post here and have conceded many points while others come from differing values and we politely agree to disagree. But if I don\’t see the logic, I will have a hard time letting go and will usually pester someone until either a) you can convince me with your logic or information I didn\’t previously have, b) I can convince you that I am right or c) we get to the point that we realize it comes from different values and so there will never be agreement. I am not saying that this is a good way to be, it\’s just how I am. I openly admit my faults but you cannot accuse me of being insincere. I really have nothing against you because I know you were responding to stereotypes and words on a page, not to me.

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  • steve August 8, 2008 at 10:56 am


    Your apology was instantly followed by positing your fault on a \’misinterpretation\’ by the other reader. Followed by a lengthy monologue describing your plight and how it justified your actions.

    Look up \’rationalization\’. Might do ya some good and help explain why your tepid \’apology\’ may be lost on others.

    Own your words. My therapy rate is $250 an hour by the way.

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  • eileen August 8, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    REasons and rationalizations. I reacted badly to feeling misinterpreted. I WAS misinterpreted. My reaction was inappropriate. At least I attempted an apology and tried to admit wrongdoing. You haven\’t even met me halfway here. I have no hidden agenda and I\’m more interested in the truth and what\’s right than being right. I don\’t think I\’m interested in the type of therapy that includes verbal abuse, thanks for the offer though.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 8, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    She has a point Steve. it would be great if you could tone down your comments and not make them so argumentative.

    i admire eileen\’s open-minded tone.

    not everyone is looking to have a heated debate or to win their argument at all costs…. how about simply sharing your views and nicely explaining to people why you think they are wrong and why you think you are right.


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  • steve August 8, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Advice that would serve both of us quite well.

    Thanks Jonathan!

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  • steve August 8, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I would like to add, that all is necessary to avoid an unwanted debate, is to not engage someone in said debate.

    Takes two to Tango.

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  • eileen August 8, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    agreed and done.

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