Bike Helmet Citations a "Drop in the Bucket" for City of Dallas

By Jeff Smith
|  Monday, Jun 16, 2014  |  Updated 9:08 AM CDT
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An open records request by NBC5 uncovered that over the last two years police officers have ticketed 371 people for not wearing helmets.

Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News

An open records request by NBC5 uncovered that over the last two years police officers have ticketed 371 people for not wearing helmets.

New numbers uncovered by NBC 5 show how Dallas' new bike helmet law will impact the city's bottom line.

Last week, the city council amended the law so that adults don't have to wear helmets. Hundreds of tickets are issued every year, though, bringing tens of thousands of dollars to the city.

Most city council members said the new law is good for public health, it will encourage more bike riding and allow a bike share program to get off the ground later this year.

The law since 1996 had been everyone had to wear a helmet, regardless of age. Now, only those under 18 years old must wear one.

An open records request by NBC 5 uncovered that over the last two years police officers have ticketed 371 people for not wearing helmets. The total cost of a citation is $81 -- $10 for the fine and $71 in court costs.

In 2013, 258 citations brought $20,898 to the city. In 2014, 113 citations equaled $9,153 in extra money.

City councilman Lee Kleinman, who pushed hard to amend the helmet law, said $20,000 is a "drop in the bucket" of a city with a billion-dollar budget. He added that requiring adults to wear a bicycle helmet was an unfair law to begin with.

"The city of Dallas shouldn't be in the business anyway of trying to raise revenues by fining residents through unreasonable laws," Kleinman said.

Our partners at The Dallas Morning News discovered that one officer alone was responsible for a quarter of all citations, and uncovered uneven enforcement in low-income and minority neighborhoods, while bicycle-riding hot spots like the Katy Trail and White Rock Lake saw zero citations issued.

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