Dallas Sure Writes a Lot of Bike-Helmet Tickets Downtown

BikeNoHelmetFlickr.jpg
Grant Doig
Goddamned criminals.
The records we used for this post initially -- provided to us by Councilman Philip Kingston, who had obtained them from Dallas Police Department David Brown's office -- were incomplete. Rather than the 144 citations we reported, there were 244 issued in 2013 and 103 issued in 2014 -- 347 total. As you can see, the number of tickets isn't on pace to quadruple this year, as we said in our original headline. We're working on updating the maps.

On Friday evening, my wife and I ran into an old high school friend at the Nasher. She's a young 30ish professional type who could live anywhere but has chosen to live and work in downtown Dallas - i.e. exactly the type of person the city is trying to court with an eye to future growth. Her one misstep: she chooses to bike the few blocks to work without a helmet.

She hasn't been ticketed, not yet, but she'd come close a couple of days earlier when a cop pulled her over and issued what she took as an overly stern warning. What good could possibly come from police hassling otherwise law abiding citizen for something as picayune as not wearing a helmet while riding down the sidewalk? I didn't tell her that riding a bike on the sidewalk downtown is also illegal.

Around the same timemy friend was getting her dressing down, police in South Dallas stopped another helmetless rider. She also escaped a no-helmet citation, though she was ticketed for the crack pipe police found on her person.

As we said, neither case resulted in a ticket and so isn't included in the 2013-14 helmet citation data presented below. But each highlights how arbitrary Dallas' bike-helmet mandate can be.

Between January 1, 2013 and May 9, 2014, Dallas police wrote 144 tickets according to data passed along to us by Councilman Philip Kingston.

Not all that many, but boring a bit deeper into the data reveals some interesting trends. Police issued 55 tickets in 2013. During the first five months of 2014, they wrote 89, putting them on pace to jsut about quadruple their previous year's total. This as the City Council seems poised to do away the helmet ordinance. Better use it while you still can.

Also worth noting is the geographic distribution of the citations. In 2013, eight tickets were written in downtown's 75201 and 75202 Zip codes, about 15 percent of the total. So far in 2014, that number is 42, or 47 percent of the total.

Here's what that looks like on a map:

Or:

HelmetCitationHeatMap.jpg

So, either be sure to wear a helmet downtown, or lobby your City Council representative to abolish the law. Your call.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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71 comments
jrbraddick
jrbraddick

The basis for amending the helmet law in Dallas is to allow for a more robust bike share program to be implemented to cater to visitors and locals interested in such programs, which has seen exponential growth in the last several years in other cities of Dallas' size.  It's also to encourage and increase bicycle ridership.  Helmets are a good thing, however should the city be in the business of mandating it's use?  The only loser in a bicycle vs car accident is the bicyclist.  Insurance claims aren't going through the roof because someone's Porche was scratched.


Furthermore, a mandate puts more pressure on riders in low income areas to afford the helmet, which should be a personal choice, not the governments.  It also lowers the growth in bicycling equity across racial and economic divides. 

scott11111111
scott11111111

Eric Nicholson - might want to re-check your data to map import, it looks like the dots are showing the citizens home address rather than the ticket location... ?

milesofsmiles
milesofsmiles

Does the bike helmet law appreciably improve the lives of the general citizens?

Will the money raised from the bike helmet law go to fund more bicycle police?

Isn't it more important to look good than to be safe?

Is it fair to say that this law treats the people like children with no personal responsibility for their actions?   

Is the ticket for not wearing a helmet a moving violation, and subject to affect my car insurance rates?  Can I take a defensive biking course?

So many questions.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

"Around the same timemy friend was getting her dressing down, police in South Dallas stopped another helmetless rider. She also escaped a no-helmet citation, though she was ticketed for the crack pipe police found on her person."


I think this hits on one of the reasons the cops want to hold onto the law. It gives them an excuse to stop people and possibly cite them for other things.


I'll also say that those who choose to ride without a helmet (bicycle or motorcycle) should have to pay all of the medical bills if they are in an accident. It's quite obvious that they care nothing for their own health and safety, so why should anyone else be forced to foot the bill for it?

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Unless its a Sunday morning you're an idiot riding a bike downtown without a helmet and deserve a ticket.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

Motorcycle helmets not required. Why bicycle helmets?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@jrbraddick  Im wondering, wouldnt someone who so into biking that they would like to bike share, also rides safely with a helmet, and would be into taking their helmet with, carrying it in a backpack that they ride with anyways?

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@jrbraddick  Basically... "White people ride bikes in Dallas now and we want their money" rather than drug dealers riding stolen K Mart children's bikes

theslowpath
theslowpath

@scott11111111  I think that's the case, because Plano and Richardson and Garland and Wylie, like every other city in Texas besides Dallas, don't have helmet laws for adults. And Dallas PD would be way outside their own boundaries writing tickets there. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Tim.Covington  

should passengers on commercial airlines be required to wear helmets?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bmarvel  

they are required unless you have taken a motorcycle safety course or carry additional insurance.

The presumption is that you have done one or the other hence, the cops do not stop and check.

This should also be applied to the bicycle helmet law.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@bmarvel

Probably because helmetless motorcycle crashes end more often in Darwinian finality, while bicycle accidents are more likely place a burden on someone, like changing their diapers for the rest of their days, etc.

They shoot horses, don't they?

jrbraddick
jrbraddick

@ScottsMerkin  It's being done in countless other cities without helmet laws.  It's only where a bike share program has been implemented with a helmet law has it suffered.  Again, it's a good idea to ride with a helmet, however it should be an responsible adult's choice.

DOisDUMDUM for the most part white people are riding more now, however Black's and Hispanic's have always ridden their bicycles, you're just not in their neighborhoods to see them are you.

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@ScottsMerkin @jrbraddick  No one into biking bike shares. It's for tourists(which Dallas does not have). 


What are they going to do? Bike share around the grassy knoll?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@DOisDUMDUM  No it isn't.  Compare to someone who carelessly refuses to use a handrail when descending stairs, falls and sues the property owner.  The property owner has obeyed code and has provided the railing to prevent falls, and should in no way be liable for injuries sustained by careless persons.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@holmantx @Tim.Covington  when the pilot turns on the seat belt light, you are supposed to return to your seat and fasten it.  Instead, I usually see people get up and go piss or shit instead.  When turbulence hits, those fucks who got up or refused to wear their seat belts, should get absolutely zero compensation from the airline for their own stupidity.  If you've never been on a plane during severe turbulence, it suck balls.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@holmantx @Tim.Covington  No. But they should wear seatbelts (as and when required). I'm not saying write people tickets for not wearing a basic piece of safety equipment. I'm saying hold them responsible for any damage that they suffer because they chose not to wear it.

theslowpath
theslowpath

@holmantx @bmarvel  The motorcycle helmet law is also a state law, whereas only the city of Dallas has a helmet law for adults. 

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@holmantx @bmarvel  In order to get a motorcycle license in TX you need to take a safety course. The insurance requirement was dropped. And the police are actually prohibited from stopping someone for the sole reason of not having a helmet. Not just because they presume something and therefore don't bother.  


Might want to update your info a bit. 

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@TheRuddSki  "while bicycle accidents are more likely place a burden on someone, like changing their diapers for the rest of their days, etc." 


How often does this happen? Seems like the worst case needle in a haystack that people latch onto for it's emotional value. 


This law is more like a road block that inconveniences thousands of people for the sake of possibly catching a few drunk drivers. 


Collective punishment. Sort of like reading people arguing with Myrna the sockpuppet. 

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@jrbraddick @ScottsMerkin  Yes. Blacks and hispanics have always ridden(other people's) bikes. Hence why there was this law.


Now that whitey is riding.. well.. you can't have a tweed ride on a penny farthing while complying with some law meant to punish minorities.

What
What

@DOisDUMDUM  Hey Grandpa...I would think you would love the WHITE water wave.  


So just to be clear.  You dislike Blacks and ALL people of color AND any White people who like Blacks or other people of color?  What if I am white and married to a black woman? 

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@ScottsMerkin @DOisDUMDUM @jrbraddick  It's just about Dallas sucking up to the NY/CA yuppie liberals in this pathetic attempt to repaint the city as something it isn't. 


It doesn't matter how many lame ideas they cop from other places... like a fake white water wave, or bike sharing, or quaint old timey street cars to nowhere. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@DOisDUMDUM @ScottsMerkin @jrbraddick  eh, they already have segway tours around the knoll.  Besides, if someone really wanted to ride a bike down commerce by the knoll, they probably have a death wish.  Drivers are assholes over there

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin  Just giving you your own medicine for scolding me on the journalism article.  [Myrna sticks out tongue]

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@marc259  partly because we have other passive restraints already existing in the cars, and secondly we are required by law to pay large insurance premiums to cover the cost of the head injury we may incur during said crash

marc259
marc259

@Tim.Covington @holmantx  More people get head injuries in car crashes than bycycle crashes. Why aren't passengers in automobiles required to wear helmets?

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@theslowpath @holmantx @bmarvel  That was the basis of the argument for the guy who took his ticket to federal court(written about and mocked here in the DO). What a difference 4 years makes...

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@DOisDUMDUM @holmantx  

"Minimum" now meaning that you must carry health insurance to ride without a helmet.

So in reality, there is a de facto minimum amount of insurance.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@holmantx @DOisDUMDUM  

I think in this case the term "applicable" can be thought of as interchangeable with "minimum" for the purposes of describing this legislation.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@DOisDUMDUM @holmantx  

"The bill requires the Texas Department of Insurance to prescribe a standard proof of health insurance for issuance to persons who are at least 21 years of age and covered by an applicable health insurance plan."

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@holmantx  Yes.. read what you posted. "The bill removes that minimum amount. "

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@DOisDUMDUM  

What I said is PRECISELY correct, including the officer being prohibited from stopping a motorist since it is PRESUMED that one or the other requirement has been satisfied. 

Read the law.  

The change was made in 2009.  Those with motorcycle licenses prior to 2009 must now also take the safety courses and carry additional insurance

Senate Bill 1967

Senate Author:  Carona

Effective:  9-1-09

House Sponsor:  Chavez

          Senate Bill 1967 amends provisions of the Transportation Code pertaining to the safe operation of motorcycles and other vehicles in Texas.  The bill requires the Texas Department of Transportation to conduct a continuing public awareness campaign to promote motorcyclist safety and the concept of sharing the road with motorcyclists.  The bill requires an applicant for a Class M license or a certain driver's license or learner's permit that includes an authorization to operate a motorcycle to furnish to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) satisfactory evidence that the applicant has successfully completed a basic motorcycle operator training course approved by DPS.  The bill establishes penalties for failure by an operator of a vehicle to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle punishable by a fine, ranging from $500 to $4,000, if a person other than the operator suffers bodily injury. 

            Current law requires a person be covered with a minimum of $10,000 in health insurance for injuries incurred in a motorcycle accident to be eligible for an exception for the offense of operating or riding a motorcycle without a helmet.  The bill removes that minimum amount.  The bill requires the Texas Department of Insurance to prescribe a standard proof of health insurance for issuance to persons who are at least 21 years of age and covered by an applicable health insurance plan.

            The bill prohibits a peace officer from stopping or detaining a person who is the operator of or a passenger on a motorcycle for the sole purpose of determining whether the person has successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course or is covered by a motorcycle health insurance plan and repeals provisions relating to a DPS-issued sticker required to be displayed on a motorcycle by a motorcycle owner. 

            Senate Bill 1967 amends the Education Code to require the Texas Education Agency to include certain motorcycle awareness information in the curriculum of any driver education course or driving safety course.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@DOisDUMDUM  b stopped learning along time ago, and now just comes here to tell us how ignorant and stupid the generations that are younger than him are, to him we know nothing.

What
What

@DOisDUMDUM Best example of POT/KETTLE ever.  Now Mrs. DUMDUM, how many children did you have before your children tossed you into that low rent nursing home? 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  Myrna is anything but a bubble-head.  Besides, she has a Khoros, a peanut gallery, and a laugh machine all rolled into one big fat cat.

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@TheRuddSki  Why do you refer to Myrna as a she? Fake account, fake name, fake pic.. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@DOisDUMDUM

I'm just using logic which I think is supported by fact to explain possible differences in the helmet laws, I'm not advocating anything. I'm pro-choice when it comes to helmets. However, from personal experience, having had a MC helmet save my life more than once, I wouldn't be caught on a MC without one.

Bicycling or skiing? Nah, never bothered.

I agree with the rest of your statements, but Myrna is not a sockpuppet, she's a circular-reasoning illogical liberal bubble-head who proudly admits she was a dupe of the communists during the Vietnam war via the SDS.

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