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Jason Rantz

Kshama Sawant bats down Seattle bike helmet law repeal

The Seattle city council member is not buying a dangerous movement in the bike activist community to push for the repeal of King County's mandatory helmet law. (AP)

There’s been a dangerous movement in the bike activist community to push for the repeal of King County’s mandatory helmet law.

The bike activist community sees unacceptably low numbers of bike commuters (less than 4 percent) in a city that’s spending and committing tens of millions of dollars to bike infrastructure projects. Consequently, they look to everything and anything to explain the lack of ridership. You’ve heard the excuse that Pronto! has been such a failure because there simply aren’t enough stations.

But there’s also the argument that mandating riders wear helmets actually keeps riders away.

It’s a dangerous argument, particularly in a city with such wet weather, hills and a growing amount of streets with streetcar tracks on them. It’s a dangerous argument that Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant isn’t buying.

Related: City of Seattle finally concedes that bicyclists can be dangerous

Councilmember Sawant recently appeared on City Inside/Out: Council Edition (h/t to the Reddit community for spotting this) and said:

“Did I hear you right, there’s somebody who wants to repeal the [mandatory helmet law]? … I definitely would not support… In fact, just two days ago… somebody I know actually, his cycle tire sort of got stuck in one of those streetcar tracks and because it was raining, the roads were slick and he got pushed against a car. And when he fell, and he now has a concussion. He’s only safe because of a helmet. And that’s just one anecdotal evidence of the massive statistical evidence that we absolutely need … I don’t think we should revisit that in any way in the public good

Right on. The city tends to kowtow to the more extreme elements of the bicycle community, but this is the second time in a week where we’re hearing officials taking common sense stances on bicycle safety.

Jason Rantz on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

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About the Author

Jason Rantz

Assistant Program Director of both KIRO-FM and KTTH-AM. Prior to this position, he worked in the programming departments of Talk Radio Network, Greenstone Media, and KFI-AM and KLSX-FM, both in Los Angeles. He's also done some writing on the side, appearing in Green Living Magazine, Reader's Digest Canada, Radar Online, and SPIN. Jason is a resident of Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood.


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