Article Comment 

Starkville passes controversial helmet ordinance

 

Tim Pratt

 

STARKVILLE -- The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved a controversial safety helmet ordinance Tuesday, despite complaints of too much "big government" involvement coming from opponents of the measure.  

 

The board approved the ordinance 4-3, with votes against it coming from Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Ward 2 Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk and Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker.  

 

Parker said he received an "overwhelming response" from Ward 3 residents against the ordinance and doesn''t believe aldermen should force citizens to wear helmets while riding bicycles and other alternative forms of transportation in the city. The ordinance does not cover Oktibbeha County or the Mississippi State University campus.  

 

Sistrunk, on the other hand, said she would "prefer we use our efforts toward education," while Carver shared a sentiment similar to Parker''s. 

 

"I just don''t think that I can sit on this side of the table and you''re on that side of the table, and I have the right to tell a grown man (to wear a helmet)," Carver said to a packed courtroom in City Hall. The first-term alderman also said he would have been more likely to support the original helmet ordinance, which would have applied only to persons under 16 years old. 

 

Along with bicycles, the ordinance passed Tuesday applies to persons of all ages riding skateboards, motorcycles, ATVs, in-line skates, roller skates, Segways and unicycles.  

 

The regulations will be enacted in 30 days, but Starkville police officers and code enforcement officers will not begin enforcing the measure until six months after it is enacted, which will give residents time to purchase helmets and read up on the ordinance. 

 

Violators of the ordinance also will have the opportunity to purchase a helmet in lieu of paying a $15 fine.  

 

The fine and lack of helmet requirements outside Starkville city limits, however, caused concern among aldermen and citizens.  

 

Some felt children could be traumatized or look poorly on law enforcement if they receive a citation for riding a bicycle without a helmet. Others felt Mississippi State University students will be targeted as they travel to and from campus, where helmets aren''t required. Still others felt a helmet requirement would decrease the number of cyclists in a town promoting cycling and physical activity. 

 

The main argument, however, was the loss of personal freedom. 

 

"I think it''s a slippery slope when the government tells people what they can and cannot do on issues that don''t affect other people," said Mike Allen, who ran for the Ward 5 alderman seat last year. 

 

But the ordinance had the support of Dr. Ron Cossman, a member of Starkville''s Healthy Hometown Committee, which has pushed for the ordinance as part of a Healthy Hometown Award competition, but also to promote safe cycling around town. 

 

"As I''ve been saying over and over again, this is all about consistency," Cossman said after the meeting. "If we''re going to promote cycling in the community, we have a responsibility to make cycling as safe as we possibly can. By requiring safety helmets, we''re doing all we can to prevent or minimize brain trauma injury." 

 

When asked about the argument that a helmet ordinance would cause cyclists to stop riding and start driving automobiles, Cossman said it''s all about changing the attitudes of local riders.  

 

"I think it''s a matter of culture and once it becomes the culture to wear a helmet while you''re on a bike in this town, people won''t think twice about it," Cossman said. "It''s going to require that we change habits. Every year we''re going to have a new freshmen class that comes in (at MSU) and they''re going to have to learn about the bike culture that exists in Starkville. Once they do, they''ll fall right in line with everyone else." 

 

Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn Sr. voted in favor of the ordinance.  

 

"The simple matter of us being responsible for the public safety, health and welfare of the community really set the standard with me," Dumas said. "If you look through most of the things we do, a lot of it deals with the public health, safety and welfare, and impacts the personal freedoms of a lot of people, but not everybody in the city of Starkville." 

 

"I do have a heart for freedom, I do have a heart for liberty," Dumas added. "I do have all those things at heart, but at the same time I think you have to look at what''s good for the entire community and that''s why I support this."  

 

Over the past three years, three accidents between cyclists and automobiles in Starkville have sent cyclists to the hospital, Starkville Police Department Chief David Lindley said.

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment JFJ commented at 4/21/2010 1:03:00 PM:

Pathetic nanny-statism. I can't wait to see aldermen wear helmets while driving their cars. It's car users that fill the ER's with head injured patients not cyclists. If aldermen don't then it woudl be reasonable to call them hypocrites.

 

Article Comment MB commented at 4/21/2010 1:07:00 PM:

If they want to do something productive why not put a bounty on the cyclists that ride on the busiest streets in town at some of the busiest times of day! I saw a group about about 10 riding together the other day blocking traffic! Absolutely ridiculous!

I thought we had somewhat of an improved board of aldermen and women but apparently I was wrong. Are they going to tell me what kind of clothes I have to wear now on certain days or what kind of clothes that I have to wear when I ride my bike? They are freaking ridiculous!

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/21/2010 1:48:00 PM:

Way to shred the constitution Aldermen Vaughn, Perkins, Corey, and Dumass, and "progressives" like Cossman. I can tell you I REFUSE to follow this unconstitutional ordinance. I will either let them pull me over or, more likely, stop riding my bike altogether and drive my car more instead. Will encourage my friends to do the same. This is ridiculous. Wake up people, your representatives are destroying your liberty and saying that you're too dumb to protect yourself without the nanny-state government.

 

Article Comment pyschadelicmama commented at 4/21/2010 2:23:00 PM:

Dan the man will become Dan the diaper man if he doesn't wear a helmet. Dan, how would u like to have ur butt wiped for the rest of ur life. Well guess what, that is what happens to alot of people who sustain brain injuries. I don't really see what the big problem is. Wear a helmet, it saves lives. There is no cure for brain injury, only prevention, and what better prevention than wearing a helmet. Lets teach our children to grow and be responsible adults. You think the government and representatives are destroying ur liberty, and in fact, one hit in the head and you have destroyed it yourself. Accidents don't choose race, gender, religion, etc. It is an accident. U never know when something might happen. I sincerely hope u never have to experience any type of head trauma because it is a life changing event that will definitely destroy the person u r "DAN THE MAN!!!"

 

Article Comment matt commented at 4/21/2010 2:34:00 PM:

It't not legal to smoke crack either even though you are only hurting yourself. Where have all these wacky right wingers come from? The same people would not mind telling gay people they can't be married or go to the prom together but they don't want any rules enforced on them? I would like to be able to smoke a j in public but even if I weren't bothering anyone it would still be against the law.

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/21/2010 3:11:00 PM:

mama, you'll recognize i never said helmets are bad. i just said that it's not the government's place in a free country to require that i wear a helmet. what about pedestrians? they're vulnerable to being hit by a car. what's your solution? government-mandated helmets for them, too? hey, it's possible to fall when climbing a flight of stairs--government-mandated safety ropes? come on. this is ridiculous. i've ridden a bike for years without a helmet as have all of my friends. none of us are in diapers, and if we were, none of us would blame the goverment. if you want to wear a helmet, fine, but don't tread on me. by the way, vote out Corey, Dumas, Perkins, and Vaughn as they clearly don't respect the constitution.

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/21/2010 3:16:00 PM:

matt, i think the detrimental effect that crack has on society versus that of not wearing a bike helmet is quite a stupid comparison. and you're wrong, i could care less about gay marriage. how about not stereotyping people and making baseless assumptions. good job matt.

 

Article Comment Some French Dude commented at 4/21/2010 3:30:00 PM:

Now I 'ave to wear zee 'elmet whiles I pedal mon unicyclette? Zoot alors! Zees is worse zan when zee Nazis invaded!

Vive le resistance!

 

Article Comment Paladin commented at 4/21/2010 3:51:00 PM:

I think Matt & Psychadelicmama are still feeling the effects of 4/20.
Comparing crack to wearing a helmet? I'm sorry I'm not that familiar with crack. I just hear that it was wack.

I'll start pushing for a helmet law for joggers. They could just as easily be hit by a car.
We should also mandate refective material for all pedestrians' clothing.

Cheerleading is often rated as the Most Dangerous Sport. I've searched the interwebs and can't find Cheerleading Helmets. sad. Guess my daughter won't on the squad next year.

Fortunately, she doesn't ride her bike much, so I don't have to worry about a helmet. She usually rides her Razor scooter. It wasn't listed in the ordinance, so apparently it is safe.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my protective bubble's filter #2 needs to be changed.

That dripping sound is the sarcasm oozing out.

 

Article Comment Remy commented at 4/21/2010 6:59:00 PM:

I just can't believe how ignorant the people opposed to helmets are. I mean, do you want to crack your heads open? You must like to gamble, and maybe your good at it, and maybe you'll never dump your bike or be hit by a car, but what if you are? Helmets for pedestrians, joggers and ropes for stair climbers? You just sound stupid. You act like little kids making up reasons to not have to do something. My step-son told me I was "over cautious" when I told him I didn't want him jumping on a neighbors trampoline with 2 other boys on there. He did it anyways behind my back and later complained his arm hurt when he struck the top of one of the boys heads on the way down. Just saying, helmets are good and if some ignorant, constitution waving Mississippian has to be forced to wear one then so be it. I don't want to pay for some uninsured moron to go to therapy to learn how to walk and talk after he cracks his head open!

 

Article Comment pickle commented at 4/21/2010 7:20:00 PM:

Remy, in one sentence you throw out a hypothetical situation and in the next sentence you denigrate those who did so from the opposing point of view as "stupid." Sorry, but when you figure out the proper forms of your/you're, get back to me and maybe I'll pay attention to what you have to say.

 

Article Comment Starkvegan commented at 4/21/2010 7:31:00 PM:

MB must one of the drivers around Starkville who takes pleasure in trying to kill cyclists on the roadway with their vehicle. Let me quote you the Mississippi Code of 1972 Section 63-2-207: "Every person riding a bicycle or an animal or driving any animal drawing a vehicle upon a highway shall have all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle under this chapter, except those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application."

Let me translate this for you, MB: A cyclist, or a horseback rider, or a mule-drawn wagon has the exact same right to use the road as you do in your car! If this group of cyclists was riding more than 2 abreast, then they were in the wrong on that account. But, being in front of you on the roadway is their RIGHT. And just like any other vehicle on the roadway, you are obligated to stay back a safe distance. You may pass them only when safe to do so.

Furthermore, the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act passed a month or so ago by the Mississippi Legislature stipulates that motorists should keep GREATER THAN THREE FEET away from cyclists when passing. It also specifies stiff penalties for failing to do so, or for any action perceived as harassment of a cyclist on the roadway.

 

Article Comment Sherry commented at 4/21/2010 9:03:00 PM:

Wearing a helmet is another safety feature like seat belt and no use of hand held cell phones while driving. It's common sense for safety. You are a bunch of cry babies. Get on board with the safety communities of this country. Evidently you all have not seen many head injuries in children or adults. Catch some in nursing homes and morgues. My goodness! Should have worn a helmet! Starkville !

 

Article Comment Toby commented at 4/21/2010 10:16:00 PM:

Ten years ago these same people were screaming about seat belt laws, and now everyone wears a seat belt out of habit - a habit forced into place by the rule of law. I ride my bicycle around Starkville and the MSU campus almost every day. When I ride in a car, I wear my seat belt. When I am on my bicycle, I wear my helmet. I did not always do so. I understand the opposition, and I respect Sistrunk and the others that voted against it. But not wearing a helmet is INSANE, people. One bad bump, over the handlebars, and you will need a bib at lunchtime the rest of your life. I am a Ward 5 resident and have no problem voting for Dumas again.

 

Article Comment CommonSenseMan commented at 4/21/2010 11:17:00 PM:

Next thing you know, they'll be banning smoking and alcohol. Whether we wear a helmet or not should be our choice, not something the government chooses for us.

 

Article Comment mondo commented at 4/22/2010 12:28:00 AM:

I think some in favor of the helmet law misunderstand what the issue is. Most people, intelligent ones anyway, are not trying to argue that helmets are bad. Yes, they do protect you. Its a given. But why should I get fined for not protecting myself? I realize I am fully capable of having a bike accident and seriously injuring myself but the idea that a policeman can pull me over and ticket me for minding my own damn business is ridiculous. Bascially this is a "sin tax" and its not by accident that at the root of this lies a competition, put on by who? An insurance company. Wonder how they benefit from something like this? The idea is that if you dont adhere to saftey standards in youre personal life that are determined by your government you will be taxed. Those who even agree with the helmet ordinance would be hard pressed to find how this is not a violation of an individuals personal freedom. Its not a complicated idea. I mean whats next? Will I be cited for unprotected sex? These days the lack of that kind of protection can be just as deadly as a cracked skull. Something tells me if they can figure out how to create a fine for that, they will.

 

Article Comment Marica commented at 4/22/2010 12:33:00 AM:

Q: How many of you were *required* to wear helmets while riding your tricycles, bicycles, etc., as kids or young adults?

Q (for all-- we can tally responses): How many people did you grow up with, who did not wear a hemet each and every single time he/she rode his/her trike, bike, etc., did NOT reach reproductive maturity?

I don't live in S'ville, so this is really none of my business, but come on, people! This is silliness run amok.

Next thing you know they'll be requiring that we all have night lights in our hallways so to prevent accidental toe-stubbings. (Is it stubbed? Is it broken?)

Just silly. And the sort of silly that makes me wonder what sort of silly people are running the show there in S'ville. I'm glad to be no part of that show.

And now I will outten the light on my laptop and make my way-- without a night light!-- to bed in a more civilized Webster County, where we in vehicles slow down for folks on trikes, bikes, tractors, school buses, and such. Just 'cuz that's what we do.

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/22/2010 6:31:00 AM:

Thank you Mondo. The argument isn't whether helmets are good. They are. HELMETS ARE GOOD! Argument settled. I don't need to hear any more about people being in a bib or diapers because of a bike accident, that has nothing to do with this. I'm with you, it can happen; unlikely, but can happen. That's a given. The problem is that the government is overreaching when it makes laws that have nothing to do with me hurting someone, but what they consider as a possibility that I might hurt myself and the slippery slope that brings about. It is an intrusion on personal liberty for government to require me to do something just to protect myself. I disagree with seatbelt laws. Again, seatbelts--good. But if I choose not to wear one, that's none of the government's business. It's my problem and one I have to deal with if I get in a wreck. Is government going to require that I have bed rails so I don't fall out of the bed or shower pads so I don't slip in the shower? I mean, after all, I could bump my head. Wake up people, government isn't the solution. Maximum freedom with personal responsibility are the solutions. Vote out anybody who has the audacity to take away your constitutionally protected liberty. That would be Vaughn, Perkins, Dumass, and Corey.

 

Article Comment Sally commented at 4/22/2010 8:45:00 AM:

Dan says, "The problem is that the government is overreaching when it makes laws that have nothing to do with me hurting someone, but what they consider as a possibility that I might hurt myself and the slippery slope that brings about." Hm. I'm sure there have been cases of a government overreaching, the no-child-left-behind act comes to mind, but this is not one of them. The streets are public property, not private property. What goes on on the streets is indeed highly regulated. The police and rescue folk have a right not to be ordered to scrape your brains off of the street when it can be easily preventable. The rest of the community has a right not to be witness to this. Head injuries from bike accidents are common. The libertarian argument is based on a fallacy, that we all live independently from one another. This is not and has never been the case for the human. We live in groups and these groups make rules. This rule is logical. If most of us are against it, then fine, but if most for, then well, we all must abide by it. I don't really have a dog in this fight. I'm just saying that the idea that this is somehow unconstitutional or that it is an infringement on someone's rights is problematic. There are all kinds of rules that apply to public streets that do not apply to private property.

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/22/2010 9:32:00 AM:

Okay, Sally, if you're going to use "public streets" as the excuse for heavy regulation, let me ask you... where does it stop? Seriously, ask yourself that question.

Pedestrians use those streets--helmets required for them? So do drivers--more helmets? Dogs too, doggy helmet? How about a law requiring reflective tape? Law for bright clothing when walking? Oh wait, somebody could have their foot rolled over by a car--steel toed boots mandated? And, you know, there are houses along those streets with kids living in them--should the government require every house to have a fence? And what height should that fence be so that children don't get in the road and police have to "scrape their brains off the street"?

You see how stupid this is. Laws to protect other people, we'll talk. Laws to protect me from myself??? Corey, Vaughn, Perkins, and Dumas--how insulting. Get out of my way.

I'm not aware of any epidemic of paralyzing bicycle accidents. In fact, we all rode bikes growing up without a helmet and all somehow seemed to make it just fine without the government there to force us to do anything.

And I agree with you about no child left behind. It was a failure as are most federal programs. Keep education at the state level. Keep it local, and keep government as minimal as possible.

 

Article Comment MSU_Students commented at 4/22/2010 10:34:00 AM:

There are several people on this message board that have complained about the "ignorance" of people that disagree with this ordinance. They make such statements such as:
"I just can't believe how ignorant the people opposed to helmets are. I mean, do you want to crack your heads open?"
"There is no cure for brain injury, only prevention, and what better prevention than wearing a helmet. Lets teach our children to grow and be responsible adults."

I understand that yes brain trauma is a very serious situation, and that wearing could prevent it; however, these claims are irrelevant because of the fact that according to this article, "Over the past three years, three accidents between cyclists and automobiles in Starkville have sent cyclists to the hospital, Starkville Police Department Chief David Lindley said." Three is a pretty small number if you ask me, and in that statement it does not specify if the cyclists had head trauma. They could have had a broken bone, or a deep cut. With this being said this is ordinance is not necessary, and could produce a negative connotation to the city of Starkville.

 

Article Comment better things to do commented at 4/22/2010 11:03:00 AM:

Dumas is an interesting fellow.

He supports this, and he also wants to pass a dog ordinance to tell you when to put your dog inside based on the temp outside.

I'm positive there are bigger issues to tackle than bike riders and helmets. Such as budget, roads, taxes and schools for starters.

 

Article Comment It''s for our own good commented at 4/22/2010 11:24:00 AM:

I want to propose a new ordinance for Starkville. I want them to pass an ordinance requiring people walking and jogging to wear helmets and reflective vests, especially 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after sunrise. If you are walking for exercise, to the store, to someone's home, or to the bar you should be required to wear one. I would also like to see them require cyclists wear these reflective vests also. If safety is the number on concern, these groups of people should be required to take the proper precautions to avoid injury.

 

Article Comment mondo commented at 4/22/2010 12:01:00 PM:

Currently there are states considering enforcing a tax on fast food and soft drinks. There is a tanning tax that will be instituted soon. There are discussions occuring now regarding the food industry limiting the amount of salt they can put in food. And now we have bike helmet law coming in to effect. And who is behind these actions? Insurance companies. In the case of the bike helmet law it is Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Whats in it for them? Well those of us who dont protect or take care of ourselves as they see fit are viewed as a risk. Its believed that these sin taxes can curtail this destructive behavior and encourage a healthier lifestyle. What it ultimately does is penalize people for wanting to live there lives as they see fit... whats good for the collective whole is good for the individual. And as for those of us who take care of ourselves and dont feel we need the stern hand of government influence in our lives... too bad. So strap on youre helmet, eat your tofu, put on youre SPF 50 and enjoy the day! That way youre safe and sound and nothing can hurt you.

 

Article Comment JFJ commented at 4/22/2010 12:13:00 PM:

Protect your liberty because helmets won't necessarily protect your head.

Myth in mainstream media rules but it bears little relationship to the facts. Here's an alternate view based on available research:

http://www.cyclehelmets.org

 

Article Comment Paladin commented at 4/22/2010 12:26:00 PM:

I'm now inspired!
I'm pushing for Florida to create a state law requiring all swimmers to wear a US Coast Guard approved pfd when swimming. This will keep the beaches safe!

All would-be swimmers - regardless of ability, age, experience, whatever else - are at risk of drowning & we can prevent it by requiring these lifevests! Remember guys, if it saves just one life, it will be worth it! Right! Right?

drip. drip. drip.

 

Article Comment psychedelicmama commented at 4/22/2010 2:57:00 PM:

First of all, get your grammar right people. Who are you really, MSU_Student? You kind of sound like a certain councilman who was against that ordinance. I am very excited to see that the City of Starkville, home of the MSU Bulldogs, has become a safe and healthier city by implementing this ordinance.

You know I realize that most people are concerned about what the governemnt can tell you to do and not to do. Have you ever thought how much the government will have to pay if you have a brain or spinal cord injury due to a bicycle accident. The cost of a traumatic brain injury varies depending on the injury and cannot be fully measured in terms of emotional and physical burdens. However, it is estimated that the individual cost of a severe head injury is approximately $3 million, a moderate injury is $941,000, and a mild injury is $85,000. How amazing!! I don't know too many people that could actually afford millions in rehab and care due to a TBI. That is one good reason why the government or local city government, in this case, should have the right to tell you to wear a helmet. Taxpayers end up having to pay the cost of the care. I sincerely hope that everyone looks at this ordinance as a step in the right direction. For the ones that don't, I am so sorry. It has passed. By the way, the ordinance does include all recreational vehicles meaning that when the razor scooters are ridden, you are required to wear a helmet as well.

 

Article Comment psychedelicmama commented at 4/22/2010 2:59:00 PM:

First of all, get your grammar right people. Who are you really, MSU_Student? You kind of sound like a certain councilman who was against that ordinance. I am very excited to see that the City of Starkville, home of the MSU Bulldogs, has become a safe and healthier city by implementing this ordinance.

You know I realize that most people are concerned about what the governemnt can tell you to do and not to do. Have you ever thought how much the government will have to pay if you have a brain or spinal cord injury due to a bicycle accident. The cost of a traumatic brain injury varies depending on the injury and cannot be fully measured in terms of emotional and physical burdens. However, it is estimated that the individual cost of a severe head injury is approximately $3 million, a moderate injury is $941,000, and a mild injury is $85,000. How amazing!! I don't know too many people that could actually afford millions in rehab and care due to a TBI. That is one good reason why the government or local city government, in this case, should have the right to tell you to wear a helmet. Taxpayers end up having to pay the cost of the care. I sincerely hope that everyone looks at this ordinance as a step in the right direction. For the ones that don't, I am so sorry. It has passed. By the way, the ordinance does include all recreational vehicles meaning that when the razor scooters are ridden, you are required to wear a helmet as well.

 

Article Comment Really commented at 4/22/2010 4:02:00 PM:

I know far more people that have had skin cancer than have had brain or spinal cord injuries due to bicycle wrecks. Therefore, I deduce that a far more effective way to save money on medical costs in the long run would be to force everyone to wear spf 80 sunscreen or cover all exposed body parts. I also know several people who have received head trauma from beer bottles. I am not sure of an exact number, but we will say five. That would mean that I know five more people who have received head injuries from beer bottles than have from riding bicycles without a helmet. That means they should either outlaw glass bottles, or force anyone within a certain distance of a glass bottle to wear a helmet and protective eyewear as well. Come on people, if we are gonna save money on medical expenses there is no use in half-assing it. Crap, my wrist just cramped up. I knew I should have invested in the anti-carpal tunnel wrist supports.

 

Article Comment psychedelicmama commented at 4/22/2010 4:15:00 PM:

Really, maybe u should read the email properly first. I didn't say these were all sustained due to a bicycle accident. I was just simply stating the cost of a head injury. You may not anyone who have received a head injury from a bicycle accident today, but that doesn't mean that someone you know won't have an accident tomorrow. Don't be sarcastic with me. Your sarcasm just shows how ignorant people can be sometimes. If you want to whine about your wrist, get up and go to the dang doctor. Invest in that.

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/22/2010 4:31:00 PM:

Psychadelic, nobody is arguing that severe bicycle accidents aren't expensive. They are. So are car wrecks, skin cancer, kids getting hurt while playing ball... All of which are much more common than the 3 severe accidents reported by SPD. By your logic, these are all areas that can maybe, possibly, potentially cost the tax payers money so they're up for possible government control even though they fall clearly under personal liberty? Should all of these and more be regulated by city government? Please tell me, mama... just how far, in your mind, is TOO FAR with regard to government taking away personal liberties under the banner of "public safety." Remember, this is a free country, we're not Cuba.

 

Article Comment mondo commented at 4/22/2010 5:57:00 PM:

Yes mama, how far is too far? Im really just curious since you think its perfectly reasonable to fine someone for not wearing a helmet.

Should sunscreen be issued and tested for people at a beach? Skin cancer is certainly at an all time high.

I would imagine there are at least 3 people, if not more, in Starkville that have fallen down stairs in the past 3 years. Should helmets become mandatory when using stairs? Maybe just knee and elbow pads?

Do you believe things such as tanning and soft drinks deserve a special tax?

STD's are on the rise. Should a person be forced to use condoms? Lets say youre not allowed to be caught on a date without them.(I realize that ones a stretch but then again, maybe not)

Television is bad for youre eyes.

Cellphones and microwaves emit waves that can give you cancer.

Red meat has been linked to heart disease and colon cancer.

Antiperspirants have been said to cause Alzheimers.

Should the government protect us from these things too?

Warren Zevon had a song called "Life will kill ya" that keeps coming to mind everytime someone tries to argue that its for the good of the people to develop such laws because it keeps you from hurting yourself. Life will in fact kill you. No matter what precautions you take, it gets you sooner or later. So if Im going to go Id rather no it happened living it as I see fit rather than how others decided I should live it.

 

Article Comment Sally commented at 4/22/2010 7:05:00 PM:

I'm just curious. How many who adamantly oppose requiring helmets for bicyclists on this blog actually ride bikes on the roads? Or is it a purely ideological argument for you? If so, how are you on the idea that theory is more important than practical reality? I think theory is hugely important, but I do not meet too many like-minded people. I bike to work and around town. But there are many roads in town on which I would not bike, due to the lack of bike lanes and the amount of traffic. On the country roads, there is hardly a shoulder, and it seems we have a great number of aggressive drivers. There are not a great number of bicyclists in Mississippi, but our town is encouraging it, so there will be more. And with them will come more accidents. So I ask you all, is the requirement of a helmet more or less of an imposition on my freedom than the limitation that I cannot ride my bike across highway 12? Obviously, I'd like to be able to bike anywhere and I'd happily wear a helmet while doing so. But I will not sacrifice my life for this desire. So using your argument, that the government should not limit my freedom to bike without a helmet, I'd like to add, the government should not limit my freedom to safely bike where ever I please. That means, requiring that all of the roadways be safe for biking. By the way, I save everyone money in the fattest state in the union by not being over-weight, by exercising, and by not contributing to environmental pollution. How about we forego the helmet law, but we require all cars to yield to bikes on every road way? That way we all get safely to work, some of us save costs for health care, and everyone is free. My guess is that many of you would not actually experience much imposition with the new ordinance, an ordinance with few teeth, and that you have much less desire to share the roads with bicyclists. I would like to ask, whose freedom are we talking about here? I have an idea that we are not talking about mine.

 

Article Comment Ryan commented at 4/22/2010 7:35:00 PM:

I'll take the middle ground here... I think there are good arguments on both sides.

1) Helmet requirement can be likened to requiring children to be in a car seat, or requiring front seat passengers to wear a seat belt, or requiring radiation level indicators on nuclear reactor workers. These are for the person's own good, not necessarily affecting anyone else. However, I don't believe anyone has taken an extreme view of "they're taking away my freedom" in regards to any of these.

2) The problem is enforcement. Since when did Starkville become "a town promoting cycling and physical activity?" Starkville's efforts thus far have been laughable, and sometimes cause more problems for cyclists than solutions... because they were designed and advocated by people who don't ride very much or at all. In fact, Chief Lindley himself has been known to heckle cyclists exercising their right by law to be part of traffic. I predict that the law will either not be enforced (either because the city doesnt care, or because it can't afford to), or it will be used as another tool to harass cyclists rather than encourage good behavior.

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/22/2010 8:05:00 PM:

Sally, I do ride in Starkville, though probably not as often as you do. I ride a few times a week. Personally, I don't like wearing a helmet because I find it uncomfortable. That's just my preference. I applaud those who wear helmets; way to go, it's just not what I want to do. Can't I be free to make my own choices?

I agree with you that we need more bike paths, but your freedom argument doesn't work. Government doesn't grant freedoms, God does. Government can either protect them or take them away. Right now all of us have the God-given freedom to choose whether or not to wear a helmet. Government in this case is stripping us of that freedom. Riding your bike on the current roads is a God-given freedom protected by government (no laws prevent you from biking on the road, in fact they proactively say you can bike on the road). Whether or not the government provides "bike-friendly roads" has nothing to do with freedom, but of government priorities and biker convenience. Now if the City of Starkville says that you are prohibited from riding your bike on public roads, scream loudly. That is when your freedom is being taken away.

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/22/2010 8:22:00 PM:

Ryan, I think your first argument is a little clouded... Putting children in a car seat APPLIES to the parent, but PROTECTS the child. I'm okay with that because children can't protect themselves so the government steps in for them and regulates parent behavior. Similarly, the government limits nuclear reactor owners but for the benefit of workers by providing safety standards. Both regulate an overarching party for the protection of another. Fine, so long as the regulations minimally impact the limited parties (business owner and parents) and provide a significant benefit to those protected (the workers, and child). The requirement on front seat passengers, though, is a different argument and a ridiculous law in my opinion. Again, that's government regulating me for the protection of me and me alone. I don't want government to do that and it doesn't fit with the intent of the constitution.

I do hope you are right about limited/no enforcement. What an insult to the Starkville Police, as well, that overzealous alderman think their time should be spent ticketing people who are just trying to ride a bike instead of drive a car.

 

Article Comment mondo commented at 4/22/2010 9:03:00 PM:

I ride quite regularly actually. Almost everyday. I ride for exercise, to pay may bils, to the ATM machine and for pure enjoyment. In fact one of the reasons I like Starkville is because I could easily get around without the use of car, either by foot or bike. So for me this is not an ideological argument. Although my dislike of helmet regulation falls in line with my politics as a whole. Actually I prefer to jog or run but as I got older my knees and back didnt like it as much and Ive considered my age may have an influence in how I view this issue. Im in my 30's. I grew up riding my bike all over the place I knew as my world as a kid. I rode bikes, jumped out swings, played in the mud, hung upside down on the monkey bars and played superman jumping off of anything tall I could find. I bumped, scraped, scratched, and skinned pretty much everything I have on me at some point or another and Im glad I grew up that way. My parents took care of me but ultimately I was free to learn things on my own without having someone throw a safety net over my world as it seems most parents do now. We're supposed to be smarter these days but Im not sure we are. We're teaching our children that someone else will decide what is best for us. We're raising a generation of people that dont know how to take care of themselves, but only to rely on someone else to take care of and make desicions for them... If someone says they are a Dr. they must be smarter and make better decisions for me than I can, right??? So in that sense, maybe this does turn into a bit of an ideological battle but Im sincere in my belief that this is wrong. At the end of the day its just wearing a helmet but when you look at the big picture there are always more things like this on the horizon and its a bit... discouraging. It makes you a little bitter to be honest. Maybe Im starting to understand why people get cranky as they get older.

As for me, I'll ride helmetless until I get a ticket. Then I'll probably just drive or walk my bike to where I can ride it. Or either purchase a motorcycle helmet that I can wear on my bike AND in my car. That way, I cant be cited for a seat belt violation since it works for motorcycles!

 

Article Comment ian commented at 4/23/2010 6:26:00 AM:

does anyone else think that this could be blanket racism in preventing black people who do not have cars from riding around the streets on their bikes?

just a thought.

 

Article Comment Paladin commented at 4/23/2010 8:43:00 AM:

Ian, you actually have a very solid thought. Most studies show that Blacks and Hispanics are the recipients of the vast majority of tickets (I think it was over 78%). Are they being targeted? Is it just going to lower income individuals? hard to say.

Either way, they view the ordinance as discriminatory and teach their kids to avoid and fear law enforcement even further.

Additionally, officers tend to slack on enforcement until they see someone they want to search. The lack of helmet is used as "Probable Cause to Stop", much like pulling someone over for a tail light out.
Do they have a right to do this? yes. But it does fuel the flames of feeling targeted.

 

Article Comment Paladin commented at 4/23/2010 9:04:00 AM:

A couple more thoughts & I'll shut up...

First, the ordinance has passed. Ok, fine. It doesn't mean I have to like it. None of us are against HELMETS. We are against someone FORCING helmets on us.
All of us have locks on our houses. Why? Because the government specified what type of locks & how many? No. Because you know what can happen if you don't. And you are the idiot if you get robbed from an unlocked home. Why couldn't we leave the helmet issue up to people as well? We don't need laws for this stuff.

Seatbelts Vs Helmets.
I've heard this comparison ad nauseam. They are apples & oranges. Helmets for drivers would be a better comparison. Seatbelts are for big heavy vehicles that fly down the roads at 70+ mph. The seatbelt law would have never passed if statistics only included in-city accidents. Most were on highways and interstates where speeds were excessive. Now we want to force laws on cyclists for the dangers imposed by motorists. Its like saying we need to wear bullet-proof vests for those crazy guys who may try to rob/kill us. No, we should lock up the crazies.

Your seatbelt will work in a wreck today, and if you have a wreck tomorrow. It will work next week. All the same- just as intended. A helmet is a one-time safety device. If you damage the material, you need to discard that helmet and buy a new one. Sure, the guy at the meeting passed around a helmet with cracks. But most of the damage is unseen! Whether from a previous accident or just little Timmy's running through the house playing, his helmet is no longer guaranteed to work properly. It is a false sense of security. We have done ZERO education to the public about the safety of helmets or how to size, purchase, care for, or replace helmets. ZERO! We just pass ordinances!
This problem is further complicated by lower income families who probably got hand-me-down helmets in the first place. The helmet looks fine, so they keep using it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've reached my destination. It isn't easy to type this while driving - especially when I'm trying to handle an issue at work over the phone! Don't worry. I don't think I passed by any cyclists.

 

Article Comment MB commented at 4/23/2010 9:51:00 AM:

The city admitted in a previous article that they could possibly get a $50,000 grant if they passed the ordinance so it is about money and not keeping people save. They passed it too late to get the money but that was their original intention. More people are hurt in cars than on bikes but all we are required to wear in a car is a seat belt. If you should wear a helmet on a bike you should wear one in your car because you COULD be in a wreck and you COULD hit your head on your side window or hit it on something else. It should be up to the person not the government when it comes to a helmet. They can not prove where anyone has been seriously hurt here in Starkville and I am sure someone will file a lawsuit because it is a joke of a ordinance.
I have a bike and I did ride it here in Starkville. I also ride on streets that are not busy, even though the idiots keep reminding me that it is legal to. I think I have a better chance of surviving in a car than on a bike so I use common sense and do not ride on busy streets. I will not be riding it in Starkville anymore along with several people I know.

 

Article Comment Seriously! commented at 4/23/2010 11:40:00 AM:

Wow! So much to read and try to figure out. It's really not that hard. Helmets save lives...helmets prevent brain injuries...more kids wear helmets when their parents wear them too...more people wear helmets in states that have helmet laws...Starkville has a helmet law. To the thirty-something-year-old, are you really gonna act like a kid and pout because someone is making you do something to be safe? To the one screaming "racism", the African-American aldermen voted FOR the ordinance. To all of you saying if you don't wear a helmet, it will just affect you, who do you think is going to pay for your care when you get a brain injury just to have your way? ALL OF US!!!!!!! Wake up! We all take care of each other whether you know that by now or not and whether you want to or not. It's called Medicaid, Social Security Disability and other programs paid for with OUR tax dollars, assuming you have a job. For those of you still on your parents' payroll, call them and ask them about it. They'll probably tell you to go to class, read a book and get off the computer when it has nothing to do with what you're supposed to be doing up here! Furthermore, go visit UMC or Methodist Rehab or your local nursing home since we don't have enough facilities in MS and then make your comments. I think you may have a different opinion. If you still insist on "living on the edge", good luck in a town full of teenagers who haven't been driving very long and who are texting and driving a lot of the time. I guess you think that's okay too!

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/23/2010 2:59:00 PM:

Okay, "Seriously!," this is SERIOUSLY getting annoying... Once again, I don't know how to make this any simpler. The argument is not whether or not helmets are good. HELMETS ARE GOOD!!! This is about government intrusion into personal liberty. I'll ask you the same question I asked earlier that was never answered... You're okay with helmet ordinances; tell me, in your mind, how far is too far for government to go when regulating personal behavior to protect us--not from other people--but from ourselves. You okay with government requring helmets when walking up and down stairs? Because that's dangerous too and I know more people who have been hurt falling down a flight of stairs than in a bike accident. Please answer that question for me. I've yet to hear a "progressive" tell me how far is too far and what they would finally consider government overreaching in the area of personal liberty.

 

Article Comment Nancy commented at 4/23/2010 3:09:00 PM:

Way to go Seriously. I cannot believe that people are whining and throwing basic floor fits about wearing a helmet. Do you think Lance Armstrong wears one because it makes him look cuter - no he wears it to prevent a head injury. Why are skiers, snowboarders, rodeo performers, etc. wearing them - if you still have a functioning brain think about it. My daughter suffered a brain injury from a car accident and I would never want anyone to have to fight the battle we fight every day. A brain injury costs roughly 2 million plus - for lifetime care. You go for it and protest by not wearing your helmet that will really punish us. Get a life

 

Article Comment mondo commented at 4/23/2010 7:23:00 PM:

Nancy- Its difficult to detect tone in these message boards sometimes so I want to be clear that Im not trying to be rude or sarcastic when I say, It is very unfortunate and sad what your daughter and family have had to deal with. I can only imagine how difficult it would be. But do you advocate laws enforcing helmets in cars now? I dont know the situation surrounding the accident but from the sound of it, that is all that would have stopped this from happening. I realize your point my have been to instill how difficult and serious a brain injury is but you also raise another issue. Even when taking precautionary measures, being careful, following rules, whether its in a car, by bike, walking down the street, etc... sometimes people get hurt just living there lives. And while I appreciate your concern and compassion to see that others dont have to deal with what you have, it dosent make you an expert on the safety that other individuals should take. And for the record, by not wearing my helmet in NO WAY am I trying to protest or prove anything or punish anyone. Im doing what I wish those of you who advocate this would realize. Im living my life and going about my own business. You say "get a life" but I have a life and I just want to live it as I see fit. Thats all I ask.

Seriously- Its people like you who really believe laws like this are impossible to argue against because it is a safety measure... Its viewed as "for the common good." I mean, how can someone argue against being safe??? This is supposedly the type of thing that informed people can all agree on and anyone that would disagree with it as a mandate must be irrational, or not love their brain, right? Right, thats exactly how this law got sold and got passed.

So when are you going to start your push for the lightening ordinance? Maybe the sunscreen resolution? The outdoor grill edict?

I think you mistake my concern for pouting. Obviously we just have different views of the role we want the government to play in our lives. You believe its ok to sacrifice liberty in the name of security and I dont. Yes, WE do live in a society where OUR taxes provide care and services to those who cant provide for themselves but I can assure those programs would have never been created nor would they haved passed had there said intent been to limit and control the rights of some in order to provide for others. Which is essentially your argument. Next thing you know you'll want to tell my parents how to spend there social security.

Who knows, maybe we should re-examine just how safe cycling is to begin with if it really is this dangerous that it makes you an accident waiting to happen. I mean, everyone advocating this plays to the brain injury, the worst possible scenario, as the standard injury that is received in a bike accident. So maybe in that sense I am better off driving or walking, although Ive heard pedestrians get hurt more than cyclist. Maybe you guys should push the pedestrian helmet law too.Oh well, its only matter of time before we all live in bubbles anyway.

But the helmet people win this one. Congratulations... Now you can wear a helmet or go to jail or not ride at all.

Libety 0 Safety 1


 

Article Comment Romay Kendrick commented at 4/23/2010 10:07:00 PM:

"I just can't believe how ignorant the people opposed to helmets are."

How dare you be such a hypocrite! Do you wear a helmet when you get in a car? Would you support a law that requires you to? If you do not Then considering that the odds are that you are at least twenty times more likely to die from a head injury in a car accident than in a bicycle accident then you you are calling youself ignorant.

Have you seen most of these so called helmets? A helmet that will actually provide any real protection will cost at least $80. Yet I will bet there will be cheap ineffective helmets being used most of the time.

 

Article Comment Romay Kendrick commented at 4/23/2010 10:29:00 PM:

"The cost of a traumatic brain injury varies depending on the injury and cannot be fully measured in terms of emotional and physical burdens. However, it is estimated that the individual cost of a severe head injury is approximately $3 million, a moderate injury is $941,000, and a mild injury is $85,000. How amazing!! I don't know too many people that could actually afford millions in rehab and care due to a TBI. That is one good reason why the government or local city government, in this case, should have the right to tell you to wear a helmet. Taxpayers end up having to pay the cost of the care."

Does it cost less if You are in a car?

 

Article Comment starkville citizen commented at 4/24/2010 1:17:00 PM:

Dumas is a dumbass. "I do have a heart for freedom, I do have a heart for liberty," Dumas added. "I do have all those things at heart, but at the same time I think you have to look at what's good for the entire community and that's why I support this."
Yeah right. What an idiot. You really think that you can force people to wear a helmet? And that's your place to tell the citizens of Starkville that they have to do that? What a joke.

 

Article Comment DanIsTheMan commented at 4/24/2010 4:18:00 PM:

Starkville Citizen, you're right on. Take a look at Dumas' quote...

"I do have a heart for freedom, I do have a heart for liberty," Dumas added. "I do have all those things at heart, but at the same time I think you have to look at what's good for the entire community and that's why I support this."

Let's say he wanted to ban salt in Starkville restaurants, mandate wearing a helmet while waking up stairs, mandate sunscreen when you go outside, mandate helmets in cars, mandate that everyone with kids have a fence, fill in the blank... all easily fall under the "good health" argument for the entire community. He could use the very same quote. Basically saying, "Hey, I really don't WANT to take away your liberty... but for the benefit of the community, I HAVE to. Don't worry, though, it's for your own good."

These people have to be stopped, the only thing they're "progressing" toward is maximum government control.

 

Article Comment Nancy commented at 4/26/2010 4:21:00 PM:

Look if you all want a brain injury go for it - I am just trying to tell you what life would be like for you and your family. If it would prevent injuries I don't care if we had to wear helmets in the car. Do as you please - just hope the Brain Injury Association gets part of the ticket money from people who are stupid enough not to wear a helmet while complaining about losing your rights. Oh, yeah and don't wear your seat belt either because that's also a law that forces you to do something you don't want to do.

 

Article Comment Romay Kendrick commented at 4/28/2010 11:41:00 PM:

"Look if you all want a brain injury go for it - I am just trying to tell you what life would be like for you and your family. If it would prevent injuries I don't care if we had to wear helmets in the car"

Then I take it that you and your family wear helmets while in your car? If your concern is so great for their safety surely you do.





 

Article Comment Romay Kendrick commented at 4/28/2010 11:57:00 PM:

Questions about the Brain Injury Association. 1.How much is the CEO,Manager, head honcho, Whatever's Yearly Salary. 2. How much do they recieve from makers and sellers of helmets. 3.Do they do any studies on what punishment is dealt to car drivers who are responsible for injuries to Cyclists? 4.When they determine how many cyclists are killed in accidents do they say how many were wearing helmets. 4. How many of their members are cyclists. I looked on their site and could find answers to any of these questions. Wonder Why ?

 

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