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Dallas City Council Could Change Its Strict Bike Helmet Law Wednesday

Stephen Becker
Alan Harmon bikes the 12 miles from his White Rock home to his job in downtown Dallas every Friday

Right now,  Dallas has a tough bicycle helmet law. Everyone must wear one. But  the City Council is considering some pretty big changes that could be approved Wednesday.

Dallas is about to launch a bicycle sharing program. But making it work is not so easy if renting a bike -- perhaps on the spur of the moment -- means always carrying a helmet.

Dallas council member Scott Griggs favors a change in the city law. He would require bike helmets only for riders age 16 and younger.

“Whenever there’s an accident between a car or vehicle and a bicycle, the car and vehicle always wins," Griggs said. "So adults can make their own decisions, but I believe we have to watch out for children and particularly teens and those who are younger.”

Council member Adam Medrano, a former school board member, says he’s always looking out for kids, so he too would insist youngsters and teens wear helmets.

“As far as adults, they can make their own decision, they can make up their mind," Medrano said. "When I ride my bike I wear a helmet and I make sure I have it even if I go down the street.”

Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins favors a change in the law, too. But he hasn’t decided how he'll vote yet. He worries most about the helmet cost for many of his low-income constituents.

“It might be some kind of way to reduce those prices or get some sponsors to give kids helmets," he said. "There is a cost to that.”  

Griggs believes discounts may be available. He also believes he’s got the votes for his preferred option. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.