Article Comment 

City to host third hearing on helmet ordinance


Tim Pratt



STARKVILLE -- Starkville residents will have one more chance to weigh in on a proposed safety helmet ordinance before aldermen vote on the measure Tuesday night at City Hall.  


Aldermen already have held two hearings on the ordinance, but it was revised after the first hearing to include all operators of bicycles and other alternative modes of transportation, not just those under the age of 16. The decision to hold a third public hearing Tuesday was based on the changes and the desire of aldermen to give citizens enough chance to voice their opinions.  


At the second public hearing Tuesday, a number of residents and aldermen expressed their concerns with the ordinance, while others supported the measure.  


Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver and Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker were concerned with potential enforcement of the ordinance -- only uniformed police and code enforcement officers would be allowed to issue the $15 citation for violators -- and what effect it could have on a child who is cited. Former mayoral candidate Marnita Henderson shared similar concerns.  


"We don''t want police officers to be foes of the children," Henderson said. "We want them to be friends of the children." 


Carver and Parker also cited the loss of individual freedom as reasons for concern.  


"I''m a grown man," Carver said. "If I don''t want to wear a helmet while I''m riding my bike around the neighborhood, I shouldn''t have to." 


"I just personally don''t think the government should be in the business of enforcing a helmet ordinance," Parker said. 


Mike Allen, who ran unsuccessfully last year for the Ward 5 seat on the Board of Aldermen, sided with Carver and Parker.  


"It''s our own individual responsibility as parents or for our own health to decide whether we want to wear (helmets) or not," Allen said.  


"This is just big government coming in at the local level," he added.  


But the ordinance had plenty of support. Among supporters was Ward 7 resident Alvin Turner. 


"We have to think for these kids sometimes because the kids don''t think their selves about the dangers (of riding without a helmet)," Turner said.  


Dr. John Ford, head of the communication department at Mississippi State University, also was in favor of the ordinance. 


"If it could save one child or one adult, it would be worth it," Ford said. 


According to Dana Pierce, associate director of the Brain Injury Institute of Mississippi, 130,000 children sustain brain injuries across the country each year due to bicycle accidents. On average, about 900 die, she said. 


Linda Southward, chairman of the city''s Healthy Hometown Committee, which has pushed for the ordinance, also spoke of the decision to include all ages in the measure, not just children under the age of 16. 


"I value the life of each person in this community, regardless of their age," she said.  


Starkville resident Kate Fable also supported the ordinance.  


"It would really help me as a parent to say, ''This is the law. You have to wear a helmet while you''re on your bike,''" Fabel said. 


The third public hearing will be held during the Board of Aldermen''s meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall. Aldermen are expected to vote on the ordinance after the hearing.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Yoda commented at 4/19/2010 12:36:00 PM:

Pass, or pass not; there is no "hearing"


Article Comment Paladin commented at 4/19/2010 2:19:00 PM:

"If it could save one child or one adult, it would be worth it," Ford said.
-- So, should we also do away with automobiles? That would save lives. How about we pass an ordinance that everyone becomes CPR certified. They are required to take a class every year. Maybe we should outlaw swimming pools & drain all natural bodies of water to prevent anyone from ever drowning.

"It would really help me as a parent to say, 'This is the law. You have to wear a helmet while you're on your bike,'" Fabel said.
--In other words, you can't control your children, so you want to hide behind a law? They should do what you say because it is what you say. You shouldn't have to have a law behind it. I'm scared to think of how you convince them to eat their vegetables!

This is absurd. This was only brought up because of the Healthy Hometown competition. I wonder which city we copied this ordinance from. I hope we remembered to put "Starkville" instead of the original city name.

I'm really questioning my decision to buy a home in the city.


Article Comment mommaliberty commented at 4/20/2010 8:22:00 AM:

we moved out of the land of the liberals and freedom squashers to the more free South.

Starkville: You don't know how GOOD you have it without all of these ordinances on your books! Don't go that route! Take it from someone who's lived in the kind of society you're trying to create.


Article Comment Romay Kendrick commented at 4/20/2010 10:09:00 AM:

Paste this in your browser and read it please.



Article Comment Mama commented at 4/20/2010 1:43:00 PM:

I wonder why professional cyclists wear helmets? Just to look good? Probably not. Maybe they know something about safety! From what I've seen, they don't ride without a helmet. In fact, more and more people participating in activities which may potentially cause brain injuries and/or death are wearing helmets. If a cowboy chooses to wear a helmet instead of a cowboy hat, maybe there's something to this helmet thing. Cowboys and girls are pretty tough generally speaking. Maybe they just want to be able to keep being cowboys and cowgirls. And liberty? How much liberty will you give up when you end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life or have to wear a diaper forever?


Article Comment Paladin commented at 4/20/2010 2:47:00 PM:

Ok, mama.
First, I have NOTHING against wearing a helmet. I'm just against the city FORCING us to wear one.... And don't kid yourself; this isn't about safety. It is about the Healthy Hometown competition. This ordinance was copied from some other city & is being forced on us.

Second, how far down that slippery slope do you want to venture? Exactly where do you draw the line? I'm sure you do some things that could be deemed "unsafe". Do you really want the government laying down the law on everything you do?

Seriously. How far is too far?
Regulating how you discipline your children? I'm sure you'd admit that the city government knows better than you.
Regulating what you wear when you bike, jog or walk? Reflectors, bright colors, horns & whistles?
Curfews? It is safer during the day, so maybe we should implement curfews.
The list goes on and on.

Finally, for those of you who claim to want people to be safe. What has the city done - or what have YOU done - to promote safe cycling?
Research or studies of Starkville? Nah, too time boring
Safety classes in schools? Nope. Too time consuming
Pamphlets or signs promoting safe habits? Negative. Too costly.
It is much easier to just post a new ordinance.


Article Comment Nancy commented at 4/20/2010 3:03:00 PM:

I have a 28 y/o daughter who suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of an MVC. I don't care how the TBI was caused it is a horrible injury and it changes the life of the whole family. If putting on a helmet saves someones life than who cares if it's an ordiance or how it came about. If you think I'm joking come to the meeting and meet my daughter and I - then tell you want to ride without protection.


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