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Tue Apr 20, 2021, 03:35 PM

How US helmet laws are used against cyclists of colour and homeless people

How US helmet laws are used against cyclists of colour and homeless people


In Seattle, 43% of citations since 2017 have gone towards homeless people, while Black cyclists received citations at nearly four times the rate of white cyclists

‘It’s really unlikely that these disparities and citation issuance come out of a situation where police are enforcing this law equitably,’ said Ethan C Campbell, a doctoral student at the University of Washington. Photograph: myshkovsky/Getty Images
Adina Solomon

Tue 20 Apr 2021 06.00 EDT

On the streets of Seattle, 130 vendors sell non-profit Real Change’s weekly newspaper for $2 apiece. They’re no strangers to police attention: King county has a law requiring all cyclists to wear a helmet, but not all do. Some vendors on bicycles have received citations; others are just stopped by police.

But on 19 March 2019, a vendor was riding a bright green rental bike when a driver struck him in a hit-and-run. Witnesses said the driver was at fault. As the vendor lay on the street, receiving medical treatment before going to the hospital, police officers mocked him. Ultimately, the man – who was homeless and of self-described “mixed-race” – received a citation for not wearing a helmet. The driver received no citations at the scene.

“How they treat this driver is a far cry different from how they treat the vendor,” said Tiffani McCoy, advocacy director for Real Change. The organisation, which advocates for homeless and low-income people, edited officers’ body camera footage into a five-minute video that was released in November 2020 as a form of activism.
‘It’s always like this’: Brooklyn Center residents describe history of racial targeting

The video helped start a conversation in Seattle questioning the fairness of the 1993 bike helmet law. Now, with demands for racial justice ringing across the country, some individuals and organisations are calling for the repeal of the law and the city is auditing how police use it. But others question whether this move could compromise safety for cyclists – using a helmet is associated with a 51% reduction in the odds of head injury and a 65% reduction in fatal head injury.

The conversation could also have ripple effects in the country: Black cyclists are disproportionately stopped in New Orleans, Washington DC and Oakland, California, and law enforcement policies have often overlooked inequity in their system. In Dallas, police have used helmet laws to stop and question cyclists in neighbourhoods of colour, according to a 2014 analysis by the Dallas Morning News. And a 2016 study by the Department of Justice found that Black people accounted for 73% of bicycle stops in Tampa, Florida, while only making up 26% of the population....................


“It is important for all cyclists to wear helmets, though I don’t think it’s something that should be mandated by law,” Brown said. “They’re being used as a pretext to stop individuals suspected of more serious drug and weapon charges. But in many cases throughout the US, you don’t find sufficient evidence to support that stop in terms of reducing these more serious crimes.”....................

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Reply How US helmet laws are used against cyclists of colour and homeless people (Original post)
riversedge Apr 20 OP
SWBTATTReg Apr 20 #1

Response to riversedge (Original post)

Tue Apr 20, 2021, 03:52 PM

1. A question...wouldn't economic disparities cause people of color and the homeless ride,

at a greater percentage of their populations, bicycles?

But of course the most important point to take away from this particular DU article/The Guardian is enforcing the law equally ... I'm surprised too that they still have helmet laws. In Mo, they pretty well gutted them (I don't want to wear a helmet, and usual other sort of nonsense). See below (from Aug. 2020).

But starting on Friday, Missouri motorcyclists ages 26 and older can ride without a helmet, if they have both medical insurance and proof of financial responsibility.

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