Lamb Heading Drive For Bike Helmet Law

Annapolis County Councilwomanwants Both Children And Adults Covered

June 11, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

Councilwoman Maureen Lamb wants to put a helmet on every bicyclist in Anne Arundel County.

A cycling enthusiast who says her daughter was saved by a helmet, Lamb, D-Annapolis, said she will introduce legislation this summer requiring the protective headgear for both children and adults.

"It's absolutely necessary for safety," she said.

Lamb has prepared a draft of the cycling bill, but has not yet worked out detailssuch as penalties for violators. She also said she wants to take heridea to local bicycle shops and clubs before she introduces the legislation.

Two neighboring counties -- Howard and Montgomery -- recently passed bicycle helmet laws, but those laws apply only to juveniles. Lamb said she is determined to make adults wear helmets, too.

Lamb's oldest daughter, a competitive biker, was seriously injured ina bicycle accident when she was thrown over the hood of a car. "She would have been killed without a helmet, no question," the councilwoman said. "I feel confident I can get bicyclists who do this all the time to come in and testify in favor of such a bill."

But Todd Jeffreys, a salesman with Capitol Bicycle Center Inc. on Old Solomons Island Road, predicted many adult cyclists will fight a helmet mandate.

"There'd be a lot of opposition to it, from what I've seen," he said. "They just don't feel it's necessary. They feel (accidents) happen so infrequently that it's not necessary. They think it's a burden."

Bicycle accidents occur more often than most people think, said John Overstreet, a 65-year-old bicycle safety advocate from Severn. Some 107 bicycle accidents were reported last year in Anne Arundel; three of those resulted in fatalities, he said. Nearly half of the children who have bicycle accidents require medical treatment, he said. Three-fourths of all cycling injuries involve the head or face.

Overstreet, who bikes about 35 miles a day, has worn a helmet for 20 years and speaks regularly in

local schools on bicycle safety issues. He said he will strongly support the helmet bill when it goes before the County Council. Overstreet appeared before both the Howard and Montgomery county councils to support their bills.

"Why do football players wear helmets? Why do baseball players at bat wear helmets? Construction workers on the job wear helmets. This is the same type of thing."

The Montgomery County law applies to children younger than18, whether they are riding or being carried on a bicycle. The law passed without controversy, probably because the council never tried to apply it to adults, said Elizabeth Beninger, council attorney.

As originally approved, the Howard law applied to both adults and children. But the law was so strongly opposed that the council changed itto affect only children younger than 16.

Bicycle helmets cost between $16 and $65, Overstreet said. The newest helmets are light and comfortable, he said.

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