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Oak Park OKs Bike Helmet Law

Parents of children who don't wear helmets will get a $25 fine or four hours of community service.

Credit: Patch file photo
Credit: Patch file photo
Oak Park Village Board members on Monday voted 5-2 to approve a law requiring children under 17 to wear bike helmets, punishable by a $25 fine or four hours of community service for their parents. 

Village President Anan Abu-Taleb and Trustee Peter Barber voted against the law. They argued that a fine and community service aren't the best ways to enforce the safety measure. A previous version of the proposed law said violators would receive education on bike safety, but not face a fine. 

Abu-Taleb said Monday he was not supportive of the law as proposed, and that education "should be enough."

Trustee Peter Barber said four hours of community service is an "extreme" punishment. 

"That doesn’t strike me as a really good way to relate to our community… Four hours is more punitive (than $25)… You’re more likely to get me to write a $25 check," he said.

Oak Park Board of Health member Dr. Ravi Grivois-Shah presented a report in October on bike helmet safety. While bikes are generally safe, he said bike injuries are a leading cause of emergency room visits in the U.S. 

According to crash statistics specific to Oak Park, there were 13 non-incapacitating injuries and three incapacitating injuries due to bike crashes in 2011. 

Grivois-Shah's reported that bike helmets have about 88-percent effectiveness in preventing injuries. A $12 helmet, he said, could mean $570 in medical costs incurred because of an injury. 

Do you agree with the helmet mandate? Do you think four hours of community service is a good punishment? Tell us in the comments below.

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