City discusses helmet plan

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Aldermen have discussed the possibility of an ordinance requiring that youth don helmets when riding bicycles, but no immediate action seems likely.

Mayor Les Bumgarner distributed copies of a sample helmet ordinance to aldermen during Tuesday night’s city board meeting but offered a qualified opinion of the proposal.

“I’m not crazy about putting more restrictions on the citizens,” Bumgarner said.

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Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan has been pursuing the means to make Brookhaven a contender for a healthy municipality award given annually by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi.

Three “Healthy Hometown” awards are granted every year in population categories, each award worth $25,000.

One municipality is designated “Healthiest Town in Mississippi” and nets a $50,000 prize.

Cities must apply for the award, and Sullivan said those cities earn points based on policies and programs available.

She said a helmet ordinance isn’t required but would bolster the city’s application.

A city can’t even apply for the award without an ordinance banning smoking in public places. Brookhaven aldermen enacted such an ordinance in the fall of 2011.

The draft ordinance aldermen received Tuesday would require anyone aged 16 and under to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or roller skates.

Bumgarner, emphasized, however, aldermen were free to suggest revisions or edits. He said he’s seen some ordinances that exempt riders from the ordinance if they are in the vicinity of their home.

For her part, Sullivan underscored the ordinance only requires youth to wear the helmets.

Aldermen didn’t discuss the matter at length and established no timeline for discussing the proposal.