Statement: New Yorkers Need Safe Streets, Not a Mandatory Bike Helmet Law

Statement of Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris on Mayor de Blasio’s comments in support of a mandatory bike helmet requirement in New York City:
Joseph Cutrufo -
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“We are concerned that Mayor de Blasio has — once again — given airtime to the false and counterproductive idea that mandatory helmet laws help make streets safer. The mayor said on Wednesday that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was “pushing us in the right direction” by recommending that all 50 states make bike helmet use mandatory.

The mayor has made Vision Zero a priority and, in so doing, has increased the number of New Yorkers who ride bikes to 1.6 million and elevated Citi Bike trips to 10 million a year. Making helmet use mandatory would decrease overall ridership, as cities like Melbourne and Seattle experienced when they mandated the same, and make streets less safe by shrinking the city’s total cycling population. It’s a straightforward concept: more people on bikes creates safer conditions on our streets. 

Transportation Alternatives encourages helmet use on a voluntary basis, but we stand firmly against mandating their use by adults under force of law. If the mayor insists on taking cues from a federal agency, he should heed the NTSB’s call to improve roadway infrastructure for bicyclists.

As New York City is amidst a Vision Zero emergency with 27 cyclists killed on our streets to date this year, a 170 percent increase from 2018, New Yorkers need a mayor focused on the real issue at hand: unsafe road conditions that continue to prioritize cars over human life.”