KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON - Today, the King County Board of Health voted unanimously to amend the King County bike helmet regulation to include Seattle. The new rule will go into effect on August 17, 2003. After that date, bicyclists in Seattle cited for violating the bike helmet regulation could receive a $30 fine.
"This is an important step for reducing traumatic brain injuries," said King County Board of Health Chair Carolyn Edmonds. "As a result of this regulation, we will spare hundreds of local families the ordeal of watching their children or other family members suffer through a devastating injury or of losing a loved one in a senseless, preventable tragedy."
Many communities in Washington State have recognized the importance of bike helmet ordinances and regulations as part of a sound injury prevention strategy. King County, outside of Seattle, has had the rule in place since 1994. Seattle, with its large number of bicyclists and bicycle injuries, will now join the growing list of communities with bike helmet regulations.
"The evidence is clear. Requiring riders to wear bike helmets will save lives and reduce serious bicycle injuries," said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health — Seattle & King County. "This thoughtful action by the King County Board of Health protects the scores of Seattle residents who ride bicycles for pleasure or transportation every day."
Several studies have shown that legislation in combination with education increases helmet usage and decreases head injuries. In addition, local researchers have found that bike helmets reduce head injuries by 65 - 85%. Moreover, Public Health – Seattle & King County, with support from the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center and the Centers for Disease Control, has estimated that $10 million a year could be saved if every bicyclist in King County wore a helmet.
This Board of Health action is consistent with a Seattle City Council resolution, passed unanimously in June, supporting the extension of King County's mandatory bicycle helmet rule into City limits.
Many organizations in Seattle and King County provide low cost bike helmets.
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health — Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.