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Friday, November 28, 2008

St. Louis County wants to require helmets for kids

St. Louis County wants to require children ages 1-16 who ride bicycles, scooters and skateboards to wear helmets.

Earlier this week, a bill was introduced before the St. Louis County Council that would require helmets throughout the county. The county already has a law requiring helmets, but that covers only unincorporated portions of the county.

(The proposal does not cover the city of St. Louis, which is not part of St. Louis County. The city of St. Louis does not have a similar ordinance.)

Under the proposal, children and their parents would receive warning for first and second offenses. For third and subsequent offenses within a 12-month period, the fine would be $10.

While the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the proposal has wide support within the council, not everyone else backs it.

Patty Vinyard, executive director of the the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation, told the Post-Dispatch the county should focus on educating people how to ride a bicycle in traffic and ensure that streets are designed with pedestrians, wheelchairs and cyclists in mind.

"Those are two things that would do more to save lives than enacting a helmet law," Vinyard said. "Many places in the county are very scary for most people who are walking or biking to their destinations."

Shirley Scatcherd, a county health coordinator who is pushing the bill, said the main purpose of the law is to educate parents of the need to have their children wear helmets while cycling or taking part in another activity.

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Roger 1 comments links to this post 7:17 PM

Helmets are fine, but the problem is that this is a quick feel-good fix with very little benefit when there are other, more important steps that can be taken to improve the safety of children on bikes.
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