A new bill requiring all New York City bike riders to wear helmets is under consideration by City Council. The bill was proposed yesterday by Councilman David Greenfield.
“Helmets save lives, plain and simple. It is common sense, but we still have far too many people biking around the city without a helmet. This law will help protect cyclists and will prevent serious injuries and deaths,” said Councilman Greenfield.
The legislation comes on the heels of a dramatic increase in cycling throughout the five boroughs in recent years and in light of further increases expected due to the proliferation of bike lanes, growth in tourism and the city’s new bike-share program.
At the moment, cyclists under age 14 and professional delivery riders are the only ones required to wear helmets in New York City.
Head injuries account for roughly one-third of all cyclist emergency room visits and three-quarters of cyclist deaths, and helmets can reduce the risk of serious head injuries for cyclists by more than 60 percent.
According to the Huffington Post, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is opposed to the plan.
Under the legislation, all bicycle riders on streets that are open to public traffic or city park property would be required to wear a helmet. A first-time violator would pay a $25 fine, which is the same cost as a quality helmet. Fines would increase to $50 for a second violation within one year, and $100 for a third offense within two years.
“This legislation is not about punishing cyclists, it’s about encouraging them to ride safely. Helmets are cheap, light and literally save lives. This law is long overdue and will help reduce the number of cyclists who visit local emergency rooms or are hospitalized as a result of injuries sustained while not wearing a helmet,” added Greenfield.
Yvonne Vasquez, a recent graduate of Brooklyn College bikes to school from her Gravesend apartment. She wears a helmet willingly because she would “rather be okay than have splattered sidewalk brains,” and she’s not opposed to the plan. However, she thinks there are other things the city should be doing to increase safety for riders.
“How about enforcing no cars on bike lanes, better bike lanes and bicycle safety education for drivers? It’s always us versus them, but we have to share the road to prevent any accidents and deaths,” she says.