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Council urged to adopt a helmet law

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Candidate hopes council will enact an all-ages helmet rule

By Shawn Skager

The Courier-Herald

At the Oct. 4 Buckley City Council meeting, Buckley resident and unopposed candidate for the position 2 council seat Cristi Boyle-Barrett urged the city to consider the adoption of a citywide helmet law.

According to Boyle-Barrett, the driving reason behind her championing the helmet law is simple.

”I just didn't like seeing the little kids, or the big kids without helmets (at the skate park),“ she said. ”We live in a town where it's still comfortable for parents to let their kids go play. There is a lot of non-parental supervision. I was seeing these 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds without helmets. Then I was watching the older kids doing way more dangerous things on the books. I couldn't believe there wasn't a helmet law already on the books.“

In addition to not having a helmet law for the city, Buckley's new skate park also does not require skaters to wear protective gear, although a sign outside the park strongly recommends it.

Seeing the need for law Boyle-Barrett got busy, gathering information and presenting the city council with statistics, benefits of a helmet law and even a mock ordinance.

”With a helmet on their head people are 85 percent less likely to have a serious injury,“ Boyle-Barrett said. ”I'm not sure what the liability to the city is, but there would also be less calls to the fire department.“

Although seeing kids without their helmets spurred her action, Boyle-Barrett said the law should cover all ages.

”I'm hoping that city will look at an all-ages law, because it's easier to enforce,“ she said.

According to Boyle-Barrett, the law is intended more to aid parents, educate and raise awareness, rather than be an enforceable law.

”If you have a good awareness and education program and you have that law in place, you get a higher level of compliance and you don't have to enforce it as much,“ she said.

However, if push came to shove, Boyle-Barrett admitted that having the law on the books would help.

”If they don't wear it you will be able to say, ‘the city of Buckley has a law that says you have to wear the helmet,'“ she said.

In addition, Boyle-Barrett said the helmet law would be a good idea for the expanding trail system in the area.

”Enumclaw has a bicycle helmet law, as does Pierce County and Orting,“ she said. ”It'd be nice for people using the trails, once they are all connected, to not have to go, ‘Where do we need a helmet?' They'd know they need one for the whole place.“

Councilmember Pat Johnson agreed that the law needs to be inclusive.

”I personally don't like to wear them but I do,“ she said. ”I wear them when I bicycle and I wear them when I ski. They don't nickname them brain buckets for nothing.

”As a matter of fact, if we have a helmet law it should be for everything and everyone. A lot of people say it should be a matter of choice and as much as I dislike rules that take away any of our liberties, I think it's a good idea.“

The proposed law went before the council Tuesday night. Results were unavailable at press time.

Shawn Skager can be reached at sskager@courierherald.com.

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