Bicyclists opposing the mandatory helmet bill showed up and highlighted a wide array of problems with the bill. Here is a quick guide to the video of yesterday's hearing of House Bill 339
First the bill was introduced by Delegate McIntosh. At about the 5-minute mark, she says that 97% of the cyclists killed in New York were not wearing a helmet. There may be some other statistics in her testimony that we need to investigate. She also says that helmets protect against 75-97% of head injurise about a minute later.
9:28 Director of Center for Injury Prevention and Policy and the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland endorses the bill, without really getting into the specifics.
12:00 Councilwoman Nancy Floreen talks about a bicycle crash she had 15 years ago.
The chairman also introduced the written testimony from the Maryland Department of Transportation, which was neutral on the bill but echoed some of the higher-end estimates of helmet effectiveness from the Naitonal Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (85-88%). MDOT also refers to an un-named synthesis of 18 studies as having found that helmets reduce head and brain injury 70-88%; but since the Atwell et al. (2001) study's estimate was 33-74%, the basis of that characterization is unclear. MDOT also cited the opinions of a pro-helmet law NGO without citing the views of the anti-helmet law NGO, before pointing out at the end that the number of deaths nationwide is small.
Here are the approxmiate times on the video for witnesses against the bill, with links to the written version if I have it. In several cases, the written and oral testimony are very different. I have only listed affiliations for people who represented an organization. The lawmakers asked a number of questions after the 4th and 8tth presentations, with Delegate McMillan picking up on the idea that pedestrians need helmets as much as cyclists.
22:40 A representative of a motorcyclists association
25:45 Shane Farthing (WABA). The proposed law could make cyclists less safe.
29:56 Jim Titus. Proponents misrepresent research about how much protection helmets provide..
33:12 Jim Hudnall. Big difference between saying people should wear helmets and making everybody wear them all the time.
40:28 Jon Morrison (MoBike) Where does it all end?
44:20 Chris Meriam. This law will undermine what Baltimore has done to promote cycling.
46:20 Jeff Weeks (Bikemore) This law might compromise cyclist's ability to recover damages,.
47:55 Penny Troutner (Light Street Cycles). Bike laws often a pretext for singling out minorities.
62:24 Nate Evans. I'll take my chances if this law is passed.
65:30 Joshua Rohrer. Bike helmets are incompatible with my religious practices.
(Jim Titus is a cycling advocate from Prince Georges County. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of any organization with which he is affiliated.)