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King County repeals mandatory bicycle helmet law

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King County repeals mandatory bicycle helmet law



In the face of data showing enforcement has been both minimal and has disproportionately affected people of color and those experiencing homelessness, the King County Board of Health voted Thursday to repeal its decades-old mandatory helmet law for bicycle riders. The repeal goes into effect in 30 days.To get more news about ebike helmet, you can visit magicyclebike.com official website.

The board, made up of elected officials and medical experts from cities across the county, voiced its support for the voluntary use of helmets, passing a resolution encouraging riders to don the protective gear. But board member and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott said there are other ways of encouraging helmet use that do not rely on law enforcement, including educational campaigns and free helmet distribution. The Metropolitan King County Council recently budgeted more than $200,000 to buy helmets and expand education.
“Helmets save lives, full stop. But the disproportional enforcement of the requirement gives us concern” about how it affects people who are homeless and communities of color, McDermott said before the vote.

The repeal affects most of King County, including Seattle. However, 17 cities in the county, making up roughly one-third of the county’s population, have their own laws mandating helmet use that won’t be affected by Thursday’s vote.

Board member and King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles was the sole vote against the repeal.

The action came despite criticism from some in the medical and legal communities who argued the law remained a necessary mechanism to ensure helmet usage remains high in Seattle. Sheley Anderson, attorney for the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington and regional vice president of the NAACP, had pushed the board to do a deeper analysis on the costs and benefits of the repeal, particularly as it relates to communities of color.We need the impact analysis to actually look at, does the actual helmet law itself reduce brain injuries?” she said.

Emergency room physicians have also expressed concern about the law’s repeal. Dr. Steven Mitchell, medical director of the emergency department at Harborview Medical Center, said his opposition to the repeal is rooted in his daily experiences with people who’ve suffered a head injury.

“I worry that the culture of people who are riding their bicycles will begin to shift away from the absolute necessity to wear them every single time,” he said in an interview.

But advocates for the repeal argued that, while riders should wear helmets, empowering police to mandate their use is neither effective nor fair.

“We’re unequivocally pro helmet-use,” said Lee Lambert, executive director of the Cascade Bicycle Club. However, “we have concerns about disproportionate enforcement and how it impacts people of color and unhoused people. If we’re centering safety, there are other ways we can make bicycling safer.”

Ethan Campbell, whose group Central Seattle Greenways has studied how the law is being enforced, argued it was not serving its intended purpose and was being used as a pretext to stop people.
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