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Demanding Answers: To Helmet Or Not To Helmet? New E-Bike Rules Renew A Look At The Data

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo is out with new e-bike regulations, requiring some riders to wear helmets, but pedal bike riders are still free to ride without protection.

The legislation requiring helmets for e-bike riders who go faster than 25 mph is meeting with a mixed response, reports CBS2's Jessica Moore.

Craig Smith rides his bike every day, but never wears a helmet. Under current New York law, he doesn't have to.

"I don't know, it's just uncomfortable," he said.

Why is the governor so "helmet happy" when it comes to some bikes and not others?

"We need clear laws. We need clear rules. We need clear regulations. And they should all start with safety first," he said.

So why not require helmets on both types of bikes?

"Well look, these are issues we discuss all the time," said Cuomo to CBS2. "These bikes theoretically go faster than a pedal bike, hence more of a need for a helmet."

Last year in New York City, 29 cyclists were killed, and many were not wearing helmets.

In November, the NTSB urged all 50 states to require helmets for all bicycle riders, saying they dramatically decrease deaths, but some transportation advocates bristle at the idea and insist a helmet requirement would discourage cycling.

MORE: Read The NTSB Report On Bike Helmets And Head Injury (PDF)

"I'm against a helmet mandate for cyclists," said Gersh Kuntzman of Streetsblog NYC.

He's an avid cyclist who always wears a helmet himself, but he fights the idea of having to do so.

"Studies also show there's a 'strength in numbers effect' with cycling," he said. "Cyclists are safer if there are more of them and a helmet laws inhabit the number of cyclists."

New York law requires anyone under 14 to wear a helmet while riding a bike. Cuomo dismissed the suggestion of upping that age to 18.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson have both been outspoken against the idea of requiring bicyclists to wear helmets in New York City.


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