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Health Profs Object to Repealing King County Bike Helmet Law


Monday, October 25, 2021   

SEATTLE - A proposal to repeal King County's law requiring helmets while riding bicycles has health professionals concerned.

The King County Board of Health is considering removing the 2003 law because of its disproportionate enforcement on people of color.

But doctors and health organizations such as the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington are worried the repeal could lead to an uptick in people not wearing helmets and getting hurt - possibly permanently.

Deborah Crawley, executive director of the organization, said board members did not reach out to her or other health professionals on this issue.

"Brain injuries are one of the most devastating effects from injuries sustained from bicycle injuries," said Crawley. "Helmets being utilized, for the majority reason, to prevent brain injuries. That's why helmet laws were instituted."

The King County Board of Health was scheduled to take a vote on repeal last week. But after an extensive public hearing, members decided to postpone their vote.

The repeal would affect Seattle and much of King County, although 17 cities in the county have their own helmet laws in place.

Richard Adler is a Seattle attorney who represents people with traumatic injuries, especially brain injuries. He said he agrees that it's wrong the law is being enforced in a racially discriminatory ways.

"I get that," said Adler. "I support that. I'm with you on that, but you can achieve that in a different way than just repealing a mandate because we know that education alone does not work."

Adler said it's important to understand how precious our brain is.

"You can get a new hip, you can get a new knee, you can get a new shoulder, you can get a new elbow, you can get a new wrist, you can get a new ankle," said Adler. "You can't get a new brain. You only get one."

The King County Board of Health is expected to meet again in November to vote on this issue.

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