Helmet compulsion proposed for Oregon

Could become first US state with all-ages helmet law

A State senator from Eugene, Oregon, USA has said he plans to introduce legislation next year that would expand Oregon's bicycle helmet law to adults, a move that has drawn much criticism from the state's largest bicycle advocacy group, Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

"We support and encourage helmet use," Bicycle Transportation Alliance spokesman Karl Rohde said. "But we do not think a law is the right way to approach it."

The group fears that requiring helmet use on public streets will simply force adults to use other forms of transportation.

The State senator in question, Floyd Prozanski, is a well-established bicycling advocate who the Bicycle Transportation Alliance have praised in the past for his work on passing bicycle safety bills. Senator Prozanski, who rides 5,000 to 6,000 miles each year, says he has always been a "strong advocate for bicyclists." He sponsored the state's "Share the Road" licence plate and helped pass a law requiring cars to give cyclists ample room when passing.  

But Prozanski disagrees with the argument that fewer people would ride if they had to use a helmet. "I have a real hard time with that one. All I'm saying is that I think it's time for the state, when we want to promote more use of bicycles, to ensure better safety for everyone. It's definitely worth the discussion."

Whilst some reports suggest Prozanski is backing away from the idea under vociferous pressure from pro-cycling advocates he still looks set to raise the issue before a committee hearing in October that will consider cycling safety issues.

Currently, Oregon riders aged 16 and younger must wear a helmet and the fine for riding without one is $25. Several U.S. cities require adults to wear bicycle helmets. But if Prozanski's plan succeeds, Oregon would have the only statewide all-ages helmet law.

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