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Bike Helmet Law Isn't Needed, but Safe Cycling Is

July 05, 1992

Although bicycle helmets will certainly help prevent serious head injuries, they are absolutely valueless in averting accidents from occurring in the first place. Every day, I am continually amazed at the number of bicyclists riding on sidewalks, traveling against traffic flow and engaging in other unsafe cycling practices that are attributable to more than 70% of all cycling accidents, according to several studies.

The many "concerned parents" who believe Sen. Marian Bergeson's (R-Newport Beach) bicycle helmet bill will prevent tragedies are living in a fantasy land. Until children and adults of all ages learn the proper and safe ways to ride bicycles, serious accidents will continue to occur.

May I suggest that the state of California publish a brief pamphlet outlining safe bicycling practices, which could be distributed through bicycle stores and school libraries. Such a publication will go a lot further in preventing cycling fatalities than a mandatory helmet law ever could.

Certainly, wearing a helmet is a good safety measure. However, I would rather see a group of helmetless kids riding in a safe manner than helmeted cyclists riding on the left side of a roadway. Bergeson's bill should be dismissed as being little more than a placebo for a large, unfortunate problem.

JEFF DIAMOND, Orange

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