Dallas Sure Writes a Lot of Bike-Helmet Tickets Downtown

Goddamned criminals.
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:


Dallas Sure Writes a Lot of Bike-Helmet Tickets Downtown

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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