King County Board of Health gets rid of bike helmet law

Credit: JaySi, Shutterstock

SEATTLE, Wash. — The King County Board of Health repealed its mandatory bike helmet law Thursday, citing the law was racist and discriminatory.

The 29-year-old rule has targeted four times more Black cyclists than white cyclists, and news outlet Crosscut found that nearly half of Seattle’s helmet tickets went out to homeless people.

The county has wanted to repeal the law since September 2021, with many board members having strong feelings against it. They say the focus should be on educational campaigns about helmet safety, and not enforcing a law.

While helmets are important for protecting cyclists, those who don’t have them handy would often get fined. Some retailers offer cheaper bike helmets for the public, but rarely anybody takes advantage of them.

Some are concerned about the repeal, like the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington. They say bike helmets prevent brain injuries, and terminating the law would cause more harm than good.

There is a bike helmet law in Spokane as well, however it only applies to children between the ages of one to 16.

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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correctly identify the group opposed to the repeal.