Lawsuit may force New York cyclists to wear helmets

Docked Citi Bikes

Docked Citi Bikes Image by Oran Viriyincy

Holidaymakers and citizens who use bicycles as a means of transport in New York are keeping a close eye on a case due before the courts soon on whether or not helmets should be mandatory while cycling on the city's streets.

The septuagenerian Citi Bike rider who blames his bike-crash injuries on the city authorities for not making helmets mandatory - and is seeking $60 million from taxpayers and the bike-share firm in a federal lawsuit, new court papers show, reports the New York Post.

Mr Ronald Corwin, (74) from Connecticut claims he lost his sense of taste and smell in the 2013 Manhattan crash, when he hit a concrete wheel stop on the East Side and landed on his head. He wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time - but says the city is at fault for not making him wear one.

Legislation that would have made helmets mandatory was opposed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2012 who said pedaling without a helmet is safer than walking or driving. The city comptroller had urged the city to support the legislation, noting that cyclists are not wearing helmets in 97% of crashes.

Corwin is contending in his papers, that the city was reckless and negligent in having a bike- share program without helmets that could be rented out. His lawyer, Michael O’Donnell, said the city can’t blame Corwin for not wearing one after saying it’s less dangerous than driving or crossing a street. “Our position is the city can’t have it both ways,” he said.

When contact by the New York Post, a Law Department spokesman said they were unable to discuss the case because the suit was pending.

The injured cyclist's suit also says that Citi Bike’s operator, Alta, offers helmets in other cities like Seattle. There, helmets are picked up and cleaned by the company before going back into use.

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