Racial disparities in bike helmet law forces decision by King County health board – Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington 2021-10-25 14:43:00 –

On October 21, the King County Health Commission discussed the abolition of county law requiring cyclists to wear helmets because of data identifying racial and socio-economic disparities in how police enforce the law. I did.

In June, the Board heard a briefing and panel discussion on the various implications of the enforcement of King County’s Bicycle Helmet Act and Helmet Regulations. The data presented show that citations were issued more frequently to blacks, indigenous peoples, and people of color than white cyclists, and that those who are homeless have helmet requirements related to law enforcement. Showed that it was reported as a common reason for.

Now, county leaders are trying to determine the role of government in enforcing public security rules, which should be common sense. How can that coercion be fair? In the first place, is it effective to use law enforcement agencies to enforce good public security practices?

Public Health Commission Public Comments Many public health professionals, advocates, and people who have experienced bicycle brain damage during the period saw the importance of bicycle helmets in reducing the risk of permanent brain damage. I testified on behalf of you.

“There were a lot of people in public comments commenting on questions that weren’t before us today,” said Board member and King County Councilor Girmay Zahilay. “Of course, helmets are effective. Absolutely, people should wear them. No one on the Health Commission has yet assumed in the analysis that these things are true. We. The previous question is that we take to very high adherence to the method of enforcement, the involvement of police officers in non-criminal activities, the economic impact of citations, and the use of helmets without potentially adverse effects. Whether there is an alternative path that can be different from contact with the police. “

Policy and public interest

The government can be considered to have a vested interest in reducing this type of brain damage. Permanent brain trauma has financial and welcoming consequences not only for the injured, but also for their families and those who depend on them. 17 cities in the county include Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Des Moines, Duval, Inam Claw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Forest Park, Maple Valley, North Bend, Pacific, Renton, Seatuck and more. There is a duty of a bicycle helmet. And Snoqualmie.

However, as racism itself has declared a public health crisis by the King County Health Commission, they now need to balance two different threats to public safety: the unintended consequences of bicycle helmet compliance and enforcement practices. there is.

In public comments, Seattle lawyer Melissa Carter quoted ACLU’s investigation into racial disparities in Florida traffic control. The investigation found “significant” racial disparities in the people cited after being stopped by police for another compulsory safety measure, a seatbelt breach.

“ACLU did not propose to remove the seatbelt method as a solution,” Carter said. “Rather, they said they would investigate the root cause and diagnose the problem of conscious or unconscious bias in the police.”

Tiffani McCoy, advocacy director of the Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project, agreed with the abolition of the helmet law and testified that police were being used as a means of “harassing” members of the BIPOC community and homeless people. Like tourists, it is permissible to break the helmet law without consequences.

“We cannot maintain policies that are known to be actively harming vulnerable and marginalized communities,” McCoy said.

Seattle Children’s Physician Beth Ebel called the debate about choosing to maintain the helmet law or abolishing it in the name of impartiality as a “false dichotomy.”

“Racism is harmful. It also causes injuries and injuries, but it is not a trade-off between the two. We can enact helmet laws and also enact laws and programs that promote fairness. You can do that, “she testified.

Lee Lambert, Executive Director of the Cascade Bicycle Club, endorsed the abolition of the current helmet law in support of safety education and improved access to helmets in the region. His organization offers low-cost $ 10 helmets to those who need them. Lambert advocated a “proactive” approach to helmet safety rather than a “punitive” approach.

The Board finally decided to postpone voting on this issue until the next meeting.

Board members and King County Councilor Jeanne Kohl-Welles urged the Board to wait for more data and information to investigate before abolishing the Helmet Act. She fears that safety education efforts are not effective for those who need it most, and that the health commission’s optics, which abolish the law requiring helmets, appear to preempt cyclists without helmets. was doing.

Racial disparities in bike helmet law forces decision by King County health board Source link Racial disparities in bike helmet law forces decision by King County health board

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