Thirty years ago, the city of Seattle approved an ordinance requiring bicyclists to wear helmets, but it’s now going away over complaints that it is enforced more against persons of color and homeless people, making it ‘racist’ and ‘inequitable.’
“The King County Board of Health voted to repeal the helmet mandate because of accusations that the law was disproportionately enforced against people of color and homeless people,” The Blaze reported over the weekend, adding:
In 1993, King County passed the law that requires all bicyclists to wear helmets. The law was expanded to explicitly include Seattle in 2003. The law was enacted to decrease the severity of bicycling incidents.
However, the community began noticing data that suggests black and homeless bicyclists were receiving more tickets than others.
“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,” states the press release from the Public Health Insider for Seattle and King County.
“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,” the analysis reads. “Further, in Seattle, nearly half of the citations issued for biking without a helmet were given to people living homeless.”
Mind you, despite ditching the rule last week by a vote of 11-2, the King County Board of Health nevertheless acknowledged that bike helmets “provide a 63-88% reduction in the risk of head and brain injuries for people who ride bikes.”
“Helmets save lives, full stop. But the disproportional enforcement of the requirement gives us concern,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermot.
“When the Board of Health first adopted a helmet mandate, helmets weren’t part of our social norms and our culture, and so the legal requirements for helmets was new and carried weight. But I think societal norms and expectations have changed significantly in the 30 years since,” McDermot added.
“The recent action from the Board of Health removes a policy that has resulted in racist enforcement while re-emphasizing the importance of wearing a bike helmet coupled with County resources to make bike safety more accessible for all,” added Dennis Worsham – interim director for Public Health in Seattle and King County.
Worsham noted that the repeal was in line with the Board of Health’s 2020 “Racism is a Public Health Crisis” resolution that vowed to make the health agency a “vital player in dismantling oppressive systems that are grounded in white supremacy.”
The board said it would pivot to other methods that don’t rely on law enforcement, such as educational campaigns and free helmet distribution.
“The Metropolitan King County Council recently budgeted more than $200,000 to buy helmets and expand education,” The Oregonian reported.
The repeal takes effect in 30 days.
So — what are we to infer here — Seattle Police are racists? Because that’s certainly what the King County Board of Health and the city council are not just insinuating but flatly stating.
There are other facts to consider as well:
— Seattle is about as deep blue as a city can get, so obviously, the left’s claims that only red cities and states — especially those filled with Trump supporters — are ‘the real racists.’
— There is no context for this ‘research.’ For instance, how many bikers of color gave cops a hard time when they were stopped, leading more of them to get a citation in the first place?
How many weren’t wearing helmets at all in violation of the law as compared to white cyclists?
Did the ‘researchers’ bother to interview any police officers who have routinely written bike helmet citations to get their input?
Raw numbers on a piece of paper in this circumstance reveal next to nothing about whether Seattle’s helmet law was really racist. But no matter; the leftists who run the city and the county are simply following a pre-determined Democrat script and aren’t really interested in public health, as evidenced by the overwhelming vote to ditch a 30-year-old law that board members admit saves lives.