City Sets Fine for Riding Without Helmet | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

City Sets Fine for Riding Without Helmet

The Jackson City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that requires cyclist to wear a helmet, or face a $75 fine.

The Jackson City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that requires cyclist to wear a helmet, or face a $75 fine. Photo by Courtesy Flickr/Michael Bentley

Jackson Cyclists had better remember to wear a helmet, or they could receive a $75 fine.

The City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that requires all bicycle riders to wear a helmet, unless they are in a cul-de-sac or on a dead-end street. The ordinance passed by a unanimous vote.

The ordinance passed back and forth from the transportation committee to the council a few times before going to the full council for a vote on Jan. 22. Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon and Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber, opponents of the ordinance at previous meetings, were absent.

Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell had also opposed a bike-helmet ordinance at previous meetings. On Tuesday, he once again expressed disagreement with the bill.

"Whenever I feel like the safety demand exceeds the personal liberty aspect, that's when I get very cautious," Whitwell said.

After his comments, Whitwell introduced an amendment to the bill that allows people on cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets to ride without a helmet. With that amendment in place, Whitwell voted for the ordinance.

Ward 3 Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes introduced an amendment that states that the city must set up a way to provide helmets for people who can't afford them. After the amendment passed 3-2, Deputy City Attorney Monica Joiner advised that the council reword the amendment to state that the city will not supply the helmets, only help set up a way for another entity to provide them. The council passed the reworded amendment unanimously.

During the public comment period, Lee Jenkins, executive director at the Brain Injury Association of Mississippi, urged the council to pass the ordinance. She said riders could prevent 90 percent of bicycle-related head injuries by wearing a helmet.

The Department of Rehabilitation Services agreed to help provide helmets for riders who cannot afford them. The council urged the Jackson Police Department to carry the spare helmets in their patrol cars for riders.

The ordinance will take effect as soon as the mayor signs it, or on Feb. 22 if he doesn't.

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Comments

robbier 7 years, 6 months ago

So now the city has to provide a vehicle for those who can't afford a helmet to get a helmet? Unreal. It's not like we have actual problems to deal with.

And in classic Jackson City Council form, this measure passed 3-2 when two of the opposing members were absent.

Maybe Larita will pay for my car insurance. I don't think I can afford it anymore, and I think the city should be obligated to pay for it since I'm mandated to carry liability insurance.

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tstauffer 7 years, 6 months ago

There are programs out there for donated helmets through AAA, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc. (That's a basic Google search.) Coxwell and Associates says they handle bicycle accidents on Google; maybe they'll donate some helmets. :)

This shouldn't be too tough to figure out.

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robbier 7 years, 6 months ago

As it marinates more, I'm fine for requiring helmets for anyone under the age of 16 or 18. Similar to a car seat. Children and teens don't always make the best decisions for themselves so this would provide a safety layer for them.

But adults should be able to ride without a helmet if they choose to do so. You know, that whole Land of the Free thing.

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