Seattle does away with its ‘racist’ bike helmet law
The unending search for equity in Democrat enclaves has now come for the bike helmet. When the King County Board of Health (which encompasses Seattle) discovered that Black, Indigenous, and other “People of Color,” along with homeless people, were getting more citations for biking without a helmet, equity compelled action: So the Board of Health repealed the bike helmet law, ensuring that this particular inequity would end even as it increases the possibility of serious head injuries for people of all colors and housing situations.
In 1993, almost 30 years ago, the King County Board of Health passed a law requiring people within that county to wear a helmet while riding a bike. Sure, it was a nanny state law but it definitely made a difference in the outcome of accidents involving bicycles. Thus, a 2016 study concluded that bike helmets reduce the risk of serious head injuries by almost 70%. In other words, at a relatively low cost and minimal inconvenience for the bike rider, the personal and societal costs of bike-related brain injuries are hugely decreased.
But some things are more important than protecting people from terrible brain injury and one of those things is making sure that Blacks, Indigenous, and “Peoples of Color,” as well as homeless people, don’t feel put upon by police anxious to force those helmets on their heads. And that seems to be what the police were doing:
However, data presented to the Board of Health has shown racist and discriminatory enforcement. Seattle Police Department data collected and analyzed by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and the Helmet Law Working Group shows that police disproportionately gave helmet law citations to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color cyclists.
Their analysis found that Black riders were nearly four times as likely to be cited by police for not wearing a helmet while biking compared to White riders. Further, in Seattle, nearly half of the citations issued for biking without a helmet were given to people living homeless.
I’m sure you noticed, as I did, what’s missing from those two paragraphs. It doesn’t say that those who are neither minorities nor homeless flouted the law in the same number as those cited. It simply says that minorities and the homeless got more citations. That minimalist statement leaves open the possibility that minorities and homeless people got more citations because they more frequently violated the law. Given that the law is intended to save lives, putting pressure on minorities and the homeless is, in true nanny state fashion, an act of generosity for their own good.
Image: Bicyclist (edited) by prostooleh. Freepik license.
But when the nanny state clashes with the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (“DIE”) state, people’s health and well-being fall by the roadside. Thus, in addition to declaring that racism is, with nothing more, a “Public Health crisis,” the Health Department did away with the law, even as it continued to scold people about wearing helmets:
In light of this data, and in alignment with the Board of Health’s declaration of Racism as a Public Health crisis, on February 17, 2022, the Board of Health repealed the King County bike helmet law while affirming the importance of helmets in preventing serious injury and death. In a companion resolution passed in the same meeting, the Board of Health emphasized the importance of helmet use for bikes, scooters and other similar vehicles and committed to work with community partners to expand access to low and no-cost helmets, provide education on helmet safety, and support the improvements for safer bike infrastructure.
And as always is the case when equity is an issue, there was money involved. The Board of Health allocated $221,000 for the purchase of “free helmets” for those who can’t afford them. Those helmets, of course, are not free because King County taxpayers are ponying up the money but, given that they voted for this execrable local government, they deserve what they’re getting.
Incidentally, a quick look at Amazon says that, unless you’re getting something really fancy, an adult bike helmet runs about $25.00. If King County buys them in bulk, it can probably get them for as little as $20.00. I really wonder if it’s going to need over 11,000 “free” helmets for an initiative it has no ability to enforce.
Whenever I look at how leftists treat minorities, all in the name of equity, I am reminded of that old Nick Lowe song, “Cruel To Be Kind.” In pursuit of “kindness” to minorities, leftists are leaving them less educated, less safe, and less capable, all while encouraging them to feel hatred for their country, hatred for White people, and an abiding sense of victimhood that destroys character, ambition, and happiness. And now, in King County, it’s trying to give them brain damage on top of it all.