Inside Opinion

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Tag: helmets


Ride without a helmet? Not on the public dime

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Here’s a deal for the bikers who want to repeal Washington’s helmet law:

Want to ride without a helmet? Fine.

Just don’t ask the public to pay for your future of 24-hour care if your unshielded cerebellum hits the concrete. Sign away your claim to Medicaid and other public benefits for any injuries the helmet would have prevented.

Some bikers are complaining this year, as usual, about the state’s helmet law. Strangely, none of them are pledging to refuse medical care on the taxpayers’ dime.

Before state Sen. Don Benton’s anti-helmet bill gets much further in the Legislature, let’s look at a few realities about the public costs of helmet-free cruising.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control last June released the gold-standard study on this issue. A few findings:

• We knew this already, but biking is far more risky than driving a car. In 2010, motorcycle crashes accounted for 14 percent of all road traffic deaths – yet motorcycles accounted for less than 1 percent of all vehicle miles traveled.

• From 2008 through 2010, “Fatally injured motorcyclists in states with no helmet law were more than six times as likely not to have been wearing a helmet as those in states with a universal helmet law.”
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Bizarre logic wins the case against helmets in Milton

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Let’s get this straight: Milton must let bicyclists and skateboarders endanger themselves because they might sue the city if they hurt themselves?

We’ll have to let the trial attorneys explain that pretzel of logic; we sure can’t figure it out.

The Milton City Council last week repealed its 12-year-old ordinance requiring skateboarders and other rolling daredevils to wear helmets at the Milltown Commons Skatepark, a popular attraction for area skaters.

City officials cited two reasons for ditching the ordinance. Blame the state for one of them; blame the bizarre quirks of litigation for the other.

And maybe throw in some blame for the City of Milton, too – for an overabundance of timidity.

The town’s leaders cite the State of Washington’s failure to require helmets as a reason the city shouldn’t require them, either.

But the state is negligent about many things; it’s not necessarily a great role model for cities and counties. Washington ought to have a statewide helmet law, given that taxpayers usually wind up on the hook for the medical expenses when an unhelmeted skater or bicyclist accidentally substitutes his cranium for his brakes.
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