The legislative proposal by Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore) to mandate that all Maryland adults wear helmets when riding bicycles is a bad idea and should be rejected by state citizens and their legislators.
Maryland adults are already free — if they choose — to wear helmets and do whatever else they believe is appropriate to increase their biking enjoyment and safety. The proposed mandate will add nothing to this.
On the contrary, it will actually discourage bicycling riding by injecting the government into the adult’s decision to bicycle. This, in turn, will undermine the use of bicycles as a form of exercise to combat obesity and for simple personal enjoyment.
It also will undermine their use for commuting, which, in turn, will have an adverse impact on efforts to improve Maryland air quality and on the growth of the new “bike-share” rental programs in Maryland. Perhaps recognizing these concerns, Maryland bicycling groups reportedly do not support the proposal.
According to The Washington Post on Feb. 7, Del. McIntosh said, “If the only reason you’re riding a bicycle is to feel the wind in your hair, you should take up another sport.”
In fact, Marylanders enjoy bicycling for many reasons and at many levels of expertise, and some, including me, even do so on occasion simply to feel the joy of the wind in their hair.
If you are a Maryland adult and wish to have Del. McIntosh tell you — under penalty of law — how you are to enjoy bicycling, then you should give her proposal your full support. Otherwise, you should oppose it.
You can always wear a helmet if you choose. The point is that the choice should be yours, not Del. McIntosh’s.
Paul Schilling, Bethesda