Elected Officials React to the Repeal of the Inequitably Enforced Helmet Law--Thanks to Your Action
Over the last 14 months, Cascade worked in coalition with Real Change and Central Seattle Greenways to advocate for repeal of this ineffective, inequitably enforced law. Helmets continue to be an important last line of defense in a crash, but armed police officers are no longer in the mix. We continue to advocate a holistic approach to safety for people on bikes.
This February the King County Board of Health voted to repeal the disproportionately enforced King County Helmet Law. Ahead of the vote, members underscored why repeal matters, citing the need for equity in our approach to safety, and calling for a more holistic approach to safety on our streets. Thankfully, our leaders agreed:
Here at Cascade, we continue to stand by our statement, Helmets Yes. Helmet Laws No. We encourage everyone who can afford a bike helmet to wear one, and we continue to require them to participate in our events and rides. Additionally, we will continue to share resources on bike helmet fit and sell helmets for $10, provide them to youth involved in our Major Taylor Project and Let’s Go programs, and provide them to adults and youth who participate in our Learn to Ride program.
There are many organizations distributing free and low cost helmets across King County.
King County Board of Health’s repeal of the inequitably enforced King County Helmet Law resulted from hours of research, advocacy and grassroots engagement from numerous community members and coalition members. The support of community members and advocacy organizations across this region and nationwide mattered, and we are thankful to all our partners who joined the call for repeal.
In place of the law, the Board of Health adopted a resolution in support of helmets, including the importance of helmet education and access, evaluation of repeal, and the need for the remaining 17 cities in King County with helmet laws to repeal their ordinances. In their 2022 budget, King County funded a staff position within King County Public Health to increase helmet distribution and other bike safety initiatives. We applaud these meaningful steps towards creating true safety for all people biking, and encouraging education and access rather than resorting to criminalization.
The repeal of the law speaks to how bias in policing is an intersectional issue that extends to bike advocacy. It also underscored that barriers to biking don’t just come in the form of street infrastructure. It’s essential for Cascade, and other advocates, to increase our understanding of the experience of everyone on bikes - especially those that have historically been marginalized by society, and proactively interrogate and evolve our policy positions as we learn about their harms. That work must continue, and we urge you all to hold us accountable to doing it.