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Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

Hey folks:  I use a helmet on every ride but do not want the politicians telling us we have to. I have worked with a bunch of cyclist in the last year where police did not issue a single citation to motorists responsible for car accidents involving cyclists. Not a single citation even though some had witnesses or the motorist was obviously at fault.  Yet some politicians seem hellbent on "making" us wear helmets while allowing motorist a free pass.
   Many people feel differently about using a helmet.  That is not what this is about.  I often hear in the media after a cyclist is involved in a crash...."the cyclist was not wearing a helmet".  Yeah, like that is the reason for the crash. 
WABAs link
https://hq-salsa.democracyinaction.org/ … EY=1266843
Baltimore Velos link
http://baltimorevelo.com/2013/01/29/psa … -headgear/

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Re: Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

This issue seems similar to the mandatory seat belt law.   How often do you read news stories about an auto accident and you hear, "no seat belts were worn..."   Not wearing the seatbelt did not cause the crash, but wearing it may prevent serious injuries.  Wearing a bike helmet won't prevent crashes, but will possibly lessen head injuries in the event of an accident.

The main difference I see is that you need a license to operate a car, so you must agree to abide by the laws or accept the consequences.  No such license is required for a bike, though you must still abide by the rules of the road.  Mandatory lights and such for night riding do prevent accidents, so  justification for their use differs from wearing a helmet.

I agree we do not need a law mandating helmets, though some people do seem to need laws to do the sensible thing.  It seems foolish to ride on our roads and trails without protection on your head, but that should remain a personal decision.

One other thing:  Helmets are mandatory (in Maryland) for riders under 16.  Does anyone know of a single instance of a rider under 16 receiving a citation for not wearing a helmet?

Myslím, že je ?cas, abych se létat.

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Re: Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

I see no problem having a mandatory law requiring helmets for cyclists.    It couldn't hurt and it might give some parents a bit of leverage in getting their younger children to use them.   The basic argument to these nanny state issues is that by complying with the law there is a benefit to society in that injuries/fatalities are reduced.  This is akin to the seat belt law. 

The issue of citations to drivers who break the law and hit cyclists or come within 3 feet is a separate issue and one of enforcement.  This is something for our advocacy arm, Bike Maryland and they are working on it.

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Re: Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

Nate Evans' take on the new proposal and links to give your opinion to your legislators.
http://www.bmorebikes.com/marylands-pro … -bad-idea/

Less than 5% of Americans use bikes. I seriously doubt that head injuries to non-helmeted bicyclists really constitutes a public health issue. On the other hand, in spite of the addition of air bags, head injuries from car crashes is a huge public cost.

Tell ya what- I'll wear my helmet if all drivers wear theirs. current/wink

bobwag@gmail.com
4130 on 28's @ 15
http://randoramble.wordpress.com/

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Re: Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

Light Street Cycles shared this on Facebook:

Light Street Cycles Response sent to Md legislators: Maryland State office holders:

I have been the owner of Light Street Cycles in Federal Hill for over 20 years. My involvement in biking also includes mountain biking, recreational distance rides, and bike commuting through Baltimore City. I spend a lot of my time both at work and otherwise encouraging people to wear a helmet. Many times I succeed, and sometimes I do not. I have absolutely no doubt that the concerns behind this bill are sincere, and that those of you supporting the bill have the very best of intentions. I also might financially benefit from a bill requiring people to wear a helmet while bicycling in Maryland. I am, however, against HB 339.

Many people who ride their bicycles do so because they have little money for transportation, and some are even homeless. They might not have the money for a helmet, or they might have to work for some time to save for one. These commuters are penalized all the way: they risk their lives on unsafe streets, and they may be fined for not having the gear they cannot afford.

I speak to this from experience. In the early 2000's, a "zero tolerance" crime policy was adopted that caught a lot of good, hardworking people biking to and from work because they were biking either without a front light or on the sidewalk where they could be safely away from car traffic. Courts and judges were backlogged, and people were needlessly ensnared in the criminal justice system. Police even tried to arrest people for biking without a helmet when no such law existed. Minorities and young commuters were targeted the most.

What I mean to say is that, at some point in time, this law will be misused and the poor and powerless will bear the burden of yet more penalties. In the meantime, those police officers who are inclined to use their authority for authority's sake (rather than for the good of the community) will spend their time and tax-payer's money pursuing bicyclists rather than criminals. The irony for those of us in Baltimore City is that there is little done to make the streets actually safer for bicyclists, and a helmet law is not going to do that. Police have often declined to prosecute motorists in accidents with bicycles when the motorist was at fault. (see the cases of Nathan Krasopoler, Jack Yates, and Natasha Pettigrew), and this may give the police more reason to cite bicyclists and ignore the aggressive drivers.

I applaud the well-meaning legislators in their attention to cyclists' safety. I must, however, urge you to please withdraw your support, or urge your colleagues to drop support for HB 339. The cycling community needs your help in so many ways, and cyclists carry so much of a burden as it is, that I am hoping you can channel your good intentions into a different sort of bill. I and the rest of the cycling community are more than willing to offer our ideas.

Thank you,

[end post from Light Street]
*******************************
P.S. I'll add that maybe when ALL police officers are trained in bicycle law and safety then maybe, just maybe something like this law could be considered.

P.P.S. And note that currently Bike Maryland is neutral on this bill.

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Re: Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

Hey folks:  Here's some info from Nates blog as to the time and place for the helmet law hearing:
The Environmental Matters Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 339 (Required Use of Protective Headgear) on Tuesday, February 20th at 1pm in the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis.  Delegate Maggie McIntosh has an excellent bill passage record.  There’s no reason to believe this bill will be different.  A roomful of cyclists with supportive data will help bring reason to this debate!
If you plan on testifying at the hearing, you must sign in 30 minutes prior to the bill hearing. If you plan on submitting written testimony, please bring 40 copies and submit one hour prior to the hearing.  For more information, call the Environmental Matters Committee at 410-841-3990.
Support biking in Maryland by opposing this bill!  Do not assume others will speak up for your rights!  WABA and Bikemore oppose this bill, but some biking organizations are remaining neutral.  Do not let Maryland become the only state in the union to require helmets for all ages!

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Re: Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

This is probably a must read for those interested in getting involved: http://www.thewashcycle.com/2013/02/mar … -bill.html

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Re: Maryland Mandatory Helmet law

Bruce Galanter wrote:

I see no problem having a mandatory law requiring helmets for cyclists.    It couldn't hurt...

I'll note a section in the motorcycle helmet law that is NOT in the bicycle helmet law:

(e) Failure to use required headgear; evidence; civil actions. --

   (1) The failure of an individual to wear protective headgear required under subsection (b) of this section may not:

      (i) Be considered evidence of negligence;

      (ii) Be considered evidence of contributory negligence;

      (iii) Limit liability of a party or an insurer; or

      (iv) Diminish recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation of a motorcycle.



So if you are not wearing a helmet you could be found at fault for a crash and be bared from recovering any damages from the motor vehicle operator who would otherwise be at fault.

Isn't Maryland law fun?

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