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De Blasio Rides Into 'Helmet-Gate' Amid Ideas For Future Citi Bike Use

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Call it "helmet-gate."

Mayor Bill de Blasio sparked an emotional public debate after he told CBS2 he's thinking of requiring people who rent Citi Bikes to wear protective headgear, reports political reporter Marcia Kramer.

Patrick Tyrell is an avid Citi Bike enthusiast and he always brings a helmet.

"I just carry it around with me in my bag," he said. "It's a $20 helmet, I think it's pretty durable, it fits in my bag I take it with me."

Tyrell Williams, a profession bike rider doing wheelies on Park Row, says "Do as I say, not as I do."

For people renting Citi Bikes, would he recommend helmets?

"I would recommend them, yes," he said. "Because it would be safer for them and others."

Two bike riders on one side of a huge uproar, sparked after de Blasio said he was considering a Citi Bike headgear requirement.

The mayor shared his position after Kramer posed the question earlier this week.

"Given the fact that there's been a lot of bicycle riders who have been hit, I wonder if you've thought about requiring people who rent Citi Bikes to wear helmets?"

"I have thought about it, that's something we're talking about inside the administration," said de Blasio.

The bike lobby erupted. called the mayor "de-brainless"

Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who refused CBS2's repeated requests for an interview, tweeted: "I am all about safety, but we need to be encouraging cycling, not creating obstacles. These ideas won't help us increase bike riding in NYC."

Danny Harris of Transportation Alternatives says that requiring helmets will drive down bike use. He says street safety is not about helmets.

"It's not about regulations, it's about prioritizing people over cars through safety, through regulation, every element that takes away New York from cars," he said.

Council Deputy Leader Jimmy Van Bramer says the mayor is just plain wrong.

"Actually contrary to what the city a whole has been moving towards which is encouraging bike lanes, making it safer and more popular," said Van Bramer.

Mayor de Blasio probably hasn't had this much controversy since he said he was running for president, but once he folds his presidential tents, he'll still have to deal with the bike safety issue.

CBS2 asked the mayor's office if there was any timetable for making a decision on helmet use, but a spokesman only said they have "nothing to share at this time."

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