Archive for October, 2021

King County has delayed a vote on repealing its draconian helmet law. That law is often used by police as a pretext to harass homeless and people of color. It also hasn’t done anything to make cycling safer:

The King County Board of Health held a public hearing Thursday about repealing the law, which requires all bicyclists to wear a helmet. According to the proposed resolution in support of repealing the law, data shows that cyclists of color receive tickets more frequently than white cyclists under the current helmet regulation, and that it is a common reason for law enforcement to engage with unhoused people. Ultimately, the board decided to delay a vote on the repeal until at least late November in order to get more information and allow for further discussion from relevant stakeholders.

Dr. Rivara, father of the bike helmet hysteria, is of course pushing King County to retain the law. He wrote an editorial which again repeats his claim that helmets “reduce the risk of brain injury by 88%.”

As most readers know, this statistic has been widely debunked. In 2013, the Feds were forced to withdraw the long-standing claim from their websites as other studies failed to replicate this result. Dr. Rivara also predicted a spike in head injuries from public bike share programs, when in fact bike share had the opposite effect of making streets overall safer for cyclists.

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CA Governor Newsom vetoed AB-122, the bill which would have permitted cyclists to treat stop signs as yield. If that wasn’t infuriating enough, his veto message directly blames bicyclists for getting killed on the state’s roadways:

Veto message

Obviously, this is a gross misinterpretation of the SWITRS data. Here is what the CA Assembly legislative analyst reported:

Traffic collisions killed 455 cyclist in California between 2016 and 2018, the highest rate in any three-year period since the mid-1990s. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 27% of cyclist fatalities occur at intersections. Failing to stop at a stop sign makes up a very small portion of the number of cyclists killed every year in California. Between 2015 and 2020, 25 cyclists have died as a result of failing to stop at a stop sign. CHP data places the fault with the cyclist in 22 of the 25 cases.

So the official figures show less than 5% of bike fatalities involve a moving violation at a stop sign (which in any case would still be illegal under AB-122). And that presumes the CHP correctly assigned fault, which is often not the case.

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