bike rider

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

As a vehicular cyclist in Dallas, I say a lot of Hail Mary’s. Thankfully, knock wood, praise the Lord, I’ve never been injured more seriously than a sprained wrist, which was my own fault.

But I have been brushed by a DART van, hit by an AT&T van (all it did was leave a me-sized dent in the guy’s quarter panel) and knocked over by a witless Chevy Suburban driver passing on the right. Not to mention the many times I’ve plumb fallen over onto the hot pavement because I am kind of a ding-dong. Ask anyone who rides a bike a lot, and they’ll have at least that many tales of near misses and sometimes more serious automobile-versus-bike accidents (spoiler: the car always wins).

After my friend was seriously injured three years ago when a car hit him from behind on the Jefferson Viaduct, I’ve never not worn a helmet on my bike. And occasionally, people who prefer to keep all their hairs in place rather than protect their beans acknowledge this to me sheepishly, like they feel the need to apologize for it. So I give them my friend’s line, “Hey, they’re your eggs. If you wanna scramble ’em, be my guest.”

The truth is, you should wear a helmet when you ride your bike. Do you know it is still legal to text while driving in Dallas? Please, wear a helmet when you ride your bike.

Even though wearing a helmet could save your precious eggs from injury or worse, the city of Dallas should not require helmets for bike riders. This has become an issue recently because our city’s helmet laws make bike-sharing programs, which even Fort Worth has, too expensive to implement here.

Mandatory bicycle helmet laws can reduce fatalities, but they also have the effect of reducing ridership, which could account for the lower number of fatalities.

When Dallas passed the helmet ordinance in 1996, many other Texas cities, including Austin and Houston, were passing similar ordinances because the state had relaxed laws requiring helmets for bike riders. Dallas is the only city in Texas that still requires them for adults.

Ron Kirk, who was mayor of Dallas in 1996, was against the ordinance, telling City Council, according to the Dallas Morning News: “I cannot support this. I just don’t believe we can legislate this, and I just don’t know how we would enforce something that makes a 6-year-old who doesn’t wear a helmet a criminal.”

I will even go out on a limb here and say that we don’t need a bicycle helmet law for children. Putting a helmet on your kid is a very good idea, and I strongly recommend it. It’s a practice that I believe should be part of our bicycling culture, especially on the road ragey streets of Dallas.

The real danger in riding a bike is not the bike, it is cars.

If we want to reduce bicycle injuries in Dallas, we should start with a ban on text messaging while driving. If nothing else, that could give my guardian angels a break.

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