The King County Board of Health is reviewing the law after concerns it is unfairly enforced and targets people of color.
SEATTLE — The King County Board of Health is looking into whether it should repeal the county’s bicycle helmet law, after concerns it is unfairly enforced and targets people of color.
Central Seattle Greenways, a group advocating for safer streets, started researching the law last year in the wake of nationwide protests over racial inequality.
“We found that Black cyclists have been cited disproportionately for not wearing a helmet at four times the rate of white cyclists, so a really stark disparity,” said Ethan Campbell, who leads the helmet law working group.
Latino and Indigenous cyclists were also cited at higher rates, and Crosscut reported that nearly half of all recent citations went to homeless people.
It is against that backdrop that the King County Board of Health is now reviewing the law.
“If this helmet law is having the unintended effect of actually harming public health through criminalization, that’s something we should take a look at and take very seriously,” Councilmember Girmay Zahilay said during a hearing Thursday.
To be clear, no one involved in the county discussion is saying helmets are bad.
“We strongly support helmet use,” said Campbell, noting the primary concern is enforcement. “We know that helmets reduce your likelihood of being injured in a crash pretty substantially.”
During Thursday’s hearing, council members sounded serious about taking action.
“This one seems to be so egregiously disproportionately applied, I think it does demand our attention,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, chair of the health board.
A helmet law violation in King County adds up to $104 in fines and court fees, Campbell said.
Tacoma repealed its bike helmet law last year after similar concerns about unfair enforcement.
In place of a helmet law, bike advocates are pushing for increased education, free helmets, and safer streets.
US President Joe Biden gifted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson a custom-built bicycle as a special souvenir for the first meeting between the two heads of state in Cornwall ahead of the G7 summit. According to reports, the special hand-built bicycle was designed as a part of the customary exchange of gifts between the heads and was chosen keeping in mind Johnson’s regular cycling outings in London.
Biden gift to Johnson
The bike was custom-made by a Philadelphia firm in a record time and at a third of the price. The red and white bike, in the colours of the United Kingdom flag, would otherwise take months to construct. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, owner of Bilenky Cycle Works- Stephen Bilenky was contacted by the US State Department on May 23 with a request to design a custom-made bicycle and a matching helmet for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Operating on a staff of four persons only, Bilenky Cycle Works usually takes up to 18 months to make a custom-made bicycle, however, the order was expedited ahead of the President’s visit to the UK for the G7 summit on June 10.
‘Controlled chaos’ followed shortly after, as per the owner who began powering to meet the prestigious order. The price of the special hand-made bike stands at a whopping $6,000, however, the budget was only set to $1,500 (£1,060), a third of the minimum price the firm charges.
Apart from Biden’s gift to Johnson, US First Lady Jill Biden gave Carrie Johnson, UK PM’s newly-wedded wife a leather tote bag made by the wives of American troops, along with a presidential silk scarf.
UK gifts Biden a mural
In a nod to the Black Lives Matter protest, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the other hand gave US President Joe Biden a framed photograph of a British mural featuring 19th-century Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The gifted image is painted by Ross Blair and it is a part of a mural trail around Edinburgh, photographed by Melissa Highton, an American-British dual national.
Johnson also gave US First Lady Jill Biden the first edition copy of Daphne du Maurier’s The Apple Tree. Downing Street said in a statement that the choice of the book was to reflect Du Maurier’s Cornish links.
(Image- Bilenky Cycle Works)