Seattle repeals ‘racist’ bicycle helmet law — Analysis

Officers argue individuals of colour and the homeless get ticketed extra usually than whites

Officers in Seattle, Washington made it authorized on Thursday to journey a bicycle with out a helmet, insisting that non-white individuals and the homeless get disproportionally punished for the offense. 

Individuals of colour, Native Individuals, and the homeless have been “bearing the brunt of disproportionate enforcement, citations, and charges,” King County Board of Well being Chair Joe McDermott mentioned, explaining the reasoning behind the change. He urged everybody to put on helmets whereas using even with the brand new rule in place. 

Officers mentioned they have been motivated by a 2020 report by Crosscut, an area information outlet, that exposed Seattle police had issued 117 helmet citations since 2017, 40% of which went to homeless cyclists. The same 2021 evaluation from Central Seattle Greenways, a avenue security group, discovered that black cyclists have been nearly 4 instances as prone to obtain a quotation for using with out a helmet as white cyclists, whereas Native American riders have been simply over twice as prone to obtain one as white riders. 

“Sure, now we have to consider mind damage, and we even have to consider the affect on our prison authorized system,” Girmay Zahilay, a King County councilman mentioned, as quoted by the New York Occasions.

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Responding to the Crosscut report on the affect of the helmet mandate on the homeless, Seattle Police Division spokesman Randall Huserik mentioned in 2020 that officers used visitors stops and citations to teach cyclists on the advantages of sporting a helmet and sought to “mitigate” the chance of damage. 

Dr. Beth Ebel, a pediatrician at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Heart, argued on Saturday that making using with out a helmet authorized will get extra individuals damage, together with members of non-white communities.

“I am hopeful that the Board of Well being will take a look at the affect of rolling again this regulation as a result of most of us listed here are nervous that we’re going to see a rise within the fee of mind damage,” Ebel mentioned in a YouTube message.


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