Citi Bike worries about proposed helmet law

Photo courtesy of Citi Bike

Senator Simcha Felder and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic are proposing a law (S.6531/A.8550) that would require all New York City bikers to wear a helmet. Although it seems like a small change it would greatly affect bikers and bike sharing programs like Citi Bike.

The legislation would require that any person operating a bike wear a helmet. This would impact Citi Bike, an organization with more than 10,000 bikes all over the city.

The program is accessible so anyone can hop on a bike and drop it off at another docking station near their destination. Most riders do not have the ability to obtain a helmet before hopping on these bikes.

Although according to Dani Simons, a spokesperson for Citi Bike, biking is the safest form of transportation, however in 2010, 800 bikers across the U.S. were killed and 515,000 suffered from bicycle related injuries.

Simons doesn’t see the need for requiring helmet use via a state law, considering that among the 43 million rides that have been taken on their bikes, there have only been approximately 50 accidents requiring medical attention in New York City, since Citi Bike began operation in May of 2013.

“With more than 43 million rides to date, Citi Bike has proven to be an incredibly safe bike share program,” said Simons. “We believe the way to make bicycling even safer is to increase funding for bike lanes and traffic calming infrastructure and to enforce existing laws.”

The bill notes that current law requires any person under the age of 14 to wear a helmet. In New York City businesses are required to supply workers biking with helmets.

Should the bill be passed, it would require everyone to wear a helmet regardless of age.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the leading cause of death following bicycling collisions is head injuries.

In 2010, 800 bicyclists across the U.S. were killed and 515,000 suffered from bicycle related injuries that required emergency care. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of face or neck injury by 33 percent. In New York City, helmet use is particularly important because, according to the National. Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 71 percent of cyclist deaths occur in urban areas.

The bill memo also states that, as the city promotes new initiatives to encourage cycling, it is important to support and promote safety measures for cyclists sharing the roads with other vehicles. Passage of this bill would take the necessary steps to reduce and prevent the number of bicycle related injuries and death.