After a thankfully brief and largely unfocused debate this morning, the Dallas City Council amended city ordinances to allow bicycles in public buildings, remove unwieldy prohibitions against stunt riding and racing, and allow bicycle riders older than 17 to choose whether to wear a helmet.
Changing the helmet requirements was essential according Philip Kingston, because leaving the ordinances as is would cripple any potential bike share programs in the city.
Kingston was among those on the council who believed the helmet restrictions should be removed entirely, either because of the difficulty of enforcing age-based restrictions or the burden they might place on families hoping to ride together.
Sandy Greyson suggested a compromise that would allow anyone over 13 to without a helmet but, despite support from Lee Kleinman and Scott Griggs, her amendment never came to a vote.
Instead members settle on the age 17 requirement. Vonciel Jones Hill and Monica Alonzo voted against the final measure, citing safety concerns.
"In an automobile-centric community, I believe it is absolute foolishness not to have a helmet on a bicycle," Jones Hill said. "Grown people can choose foolishness, but government should help them."
Kingston also voted against the final proposed changes, because they didn't go far enough.
Sheffie Kadane was most concerned about the end of the stunt riding prohibition.
"[The amendments are now] under 17 and you can act crazy on a bike," he said with apparent frustration. Kadane voted to approve all of the changes.