Helmet Laws – an Impediment to Bike Share in Seattle?

According to Seattle Bike Blog, both Seattle U and King County are looking seriously at bikeshare programs, akin to Denver’s B-Cycle program. One interesting point at the end of the article is that our mandatory helmet laws represent an impediment to launching a bikeshare program, and that perhaps we should subsidize helmets or amend the law to exempt bikeshare.

These are two horrible ideas. Subsidizing helmets does nothing to solve the spur-of-the-moment nature of taking a quick ride that makes bike share so appealing (I know . . . let’s also subsidize backpacks to carry the helmets – and then pass a law requiring everyone to carry their helmet at all times!). And excepting bike share creates nothing but ride and enforcement confusion. So here’s a thought – why not just shit-can our mandatory helmet laws? There’s no evidence they do any good, and we can now add “discouraging bike share programs” to the litany of ills visited by this particular little bit of nanny-statism.

This isn’t to say I think wearing a helmet is a bad idea. In fact, I think it’s dumb to ride in the city without one. But it should always be a matter of rider choice. While I’ll always tell you what I think the right choice is, there’s no reason for our government to dictate that choice for you.

Leave a Reply