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Give cylists helmets, but don't ticket them for not having one

To the editor: State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) wants to pass a law mandating helmets for all bicyclists. Some bicyclists say they are safer without helmets. The Times says we need a study. You are all wrong. ("Require bike helmets? There's not enough safety data," editorial, March 19)

Anyone whose head has hit the pavement in a bike accident knows the value of helmets. That includes my neighbor, who spent two months in the hospital and suffers permanent brain damage after her helmetless accident, and me, who walked away with only a slight headache after a similar but helmeted accident.

Many who ride bicycles do so because it is the only mode of transportation they can afford. Many would have trouble paying for a helmet. I used to see them every day on the Green Line. Don't fine these poor people, and instead of wasting money on a study, use the funds to buy helmets to give away at Metro stations.

Russell Stone, Westchester

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To the editor: One aspect of the misguided mandatory bicycle helmet bill is Liu's failure to consider how her law would actually be enforced.

Police would surely say they have much higher priorities to handle than such a minor infraction. Not only is Liu's mandatory helmet law unsupported by any data, but it is also fiscally irresponsible to ask this of our law enforcement officers.

If Liu wanted to help improve street safety, her attention would be much better spent supporting bicycle infrastructure that would prevent crashes rather than demanding that law enforcement spend their time hunting down bareheaded cyclists.

Marc Caswell, Los Angeles

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