If you rode your bike Wednesday and wore a helmet, you won’t have to wear it Wednesday night. That’s because Dallas no longer requires every bike rider to wear one. The Dallas City Council voted 12-3 Wednesday to require only those 17 and under to wear a helmet.
The vote was both expected and welcomed by the 12 council members who approved it. Council member Jerry Allen said the change will let adults freely decide if they want to wear a helmet, while cementing the idea among kids that wearing one is not only required, but smart and easy.
“The 10 to 15 age group has both the highest fatality rate and the highest injury rate," Allen said. "This is about behavioral control and getting a generation to want to wear helmets.”
Council member Philip Kingston said changing the law is a must to help launch Dallas’ bike sharing program scheduled for later this year in Fair Park.
“The bike share program that’s likely to be able to blossom through this action of the council has been shown in cities around the world to not increase the number of head injuries regardless of whether there’s a helmet ordinance in place," Kingston said.
Kingston said keeping the city’s strict helmet law would doom the bike share program.
He was among three voting against the change because he didn’t want any restrictions. But council member Vonciel Jones Hill voted against it because she wanted no changes, insisting on safety first.
“This is a behavior that I believe should be regulated,” Hill said. “And while again I recognize grown people can choose foolishness, I believe that government officials should help them to choose wisdom.”
The new law also now permits stunt riding. Those wheelies are now OK, along with tricksters who try riding on railings or coasting downhill doing a handstand. Bikes are now allowed in public buildings too.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings urged every cyclist to wear a helmet, no matter the age.
“I think I speak for the City Council,” Rawlings said. “Kids, wear helmets. Adults, wear helmets. We believe in helmet-wearing.”
The change in the bike helmet law is immediate. The old helmet law had been in place for 18 years.