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Burnt Orange Reporters
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So Where is that Helmet Ordinance?

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 22:00:00 PM CDT

Oh where, oh where, could the ordinance be?
Oh where, oh where could it be?

The City of Austin has yet to release a draft or final version of a proposed change to the existing bicycle helmet ordinance that would purportedly make it illegal for adults to ride bikes anywhere without a helmet. The council voted to hold a public hearing on the mystery ordinance on Aug. 24, a mere two days from today.

Current Austin law requires anyone age 17 or under to wear a bicycle helmet.

"All we know is that council is looking at something that makes it mandatory for adults to wear helmets when riding a bicycle," said Rob D'Amico, spokesperson for the League of Bicycling Voters (LOBV), the organization leading the campaign against the proposal. "Beyond that, we can just guess at what we're supposed to comment on when it comes time for a public hearing. What will the penalties be for not having a helmet on? Will this apply to people riding in the "pedicabs" pulled by bicyclists downtown?  Can they haul someone off to jail for not wearing a helmet? Inquiring minds, helmeted and non-helmeted, want to know."

Apparently, LOBV was told in July that the ordinance was not public and therefore could not be released. But there is one person that should know what is being crafted- former Mayor Bruce Todd who is on a holy quest to helmet the heads of Austinites whether they like it or not. As D'Amico said in a press statement,

"I guess that means Todd is privy to what's going on, so now we're looking for another former mayor out there with connections who might be able to help us figure it out."

Paging Kirk Watson...Gus Garcia? Heck, I bet Jennifer Gale might have the best information for as much time as she spends at City Council. (Does anyone else find that somewhat sad?)

There are other alternatives of course. The city's Urban Transportation Commission had the issue brought up on it's docket which resulted in (shockingly) not a recommendation for speedy passage of Bruce's Bike Law, but a "18-month comprehensive study on bicycle injuries and safety issues" which might, you know, provide some real statistics to base policy on for the City of Austin.

Also, (shockingly) the Austin Cycling Association, the largest bicycle organization in the Austin area with 1,500 members, is also recommending that the city not address an ordinance change next week, so that the city and ACA have time to review alternative recommendations for bicycle safety measures. The ACA leadership and membership voted in May to not support the proposed ordinance.

The public hearing on the yet to be circulated ordinance will be this Thursday, August 24, starting at 6pm down at City Hall.

Tags: Helmet Ordinance, BOR Humor, About BOR, Jennifer Gale, (All Tags)
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