For the first time since 1996, adult bicyclists can now ride with the wind in their hair in the City of Dallas. On June 11, the city council amended the ordinance to require a helmet for minors only. It previously applied to riders of all ages.
The move was approved by all but three council members: Philip Kingston wanted the law repealed outright, and Vonciel Jones Hill and Monica Alonzo did not favor dropping the helmet restriction for anyone.
"I think you are going to see the same amount of people wearing helmets no matter what we do with the law," Rick Callahan said.
The attitude shift came in response to the fact that Dallas is considering installing a bike-share program, beginning in Fair Park. With a helmet law in place, such a program would have required the bike-share company to provide helmets.
Council member Rick Callahan wants the vendors to post a sign warning of the dangers of helmet-less riding. "I think that's the way to go, to try to get voluntary compliance," he said. "I think you are going to see the same amount of people wearing helmets no matter what we do with the law."
The council toyed with the idea of lowering the age requirement from 17 to 13, which ultimately failed.
"The 10 to 15 age group has both the highest fatality rate and the highest injury rate," council member Jerry Allen said.
The fine for anyone under the age of 18 not wearing a helmet is about $80, including court costs. Although the law has been eliminated for adults, the council made a point of reiterating its support for bike helmets.
"Kids, wear helmets. Adults, wear helmets," Mayor Mike Rawlings said. "If there is any question, we believe in helmet wearing."