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.