Tag Archive: Bicycling

Cultural imperialism and helmet laws

I don’t generally have a lot of nanny-state moments, but this article about how Seattle’s bike helmet law is holding up efforts to launch the Puget Sound Bike Share program had a couple of discordant notes. Repeatedly, the article makes assertions like this:

We live in a helmet-wearing culture and the PSBS plans to own it. “We are proud to start the [bike share program] in Seattle and be a model for other cities,” Lindmark says.

That’s Ref Lindmark, who happens to be the transportation planner for King County Metro as well as president of the PSBS board. Note that his quote seems to have nothing to do with bike helmets, much less our “helmet-wearing culture.” Possibly because that’s not what we have. What we have is a county regulation stating that anyone riding a bicycle without a helmet can be subject to a $30 fine. So the fact that just about everyone in Seattle wears a helmet isn’t a cultural quirk so much as the result of a deliberate policy choice by our government.