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NYC nanny-in-chief curiously un-nannylike when it comes to bicycle helmets

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By Doug Powers  •  May 28, 2013 09:22 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

Yesterday, a new bicycle sharing program began in New York City:

The privately financed program – called Citi Bike, after lead sponsor Citigroup Inc. – kicked off with 6,000 bikes at more than 300 stations. Plans call for expanding it to 10,000 bikes docked at 600 places in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Riders now can unlock the three-gear, cruising-style bikes from any station, take them for 45-minute rides and return them to any rack.

“We now have an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.

So, if you’re in NYC and are going somewhere too far to travel by foot but don’t want to spend money on a cab, just get a bike, hand over any large, sugary sodas and salty foods you might have in your possession (fine waived for bike renters), put on the mandatory bike helmet, and you’re off.

Wait, Bloomberg — the mayor who never met a safety reg he didn’t like — doesn’t require riders to wear helmets? Nope, not at all:

New York’s ambitious bike-share program launches this Memorial Day weekend. It’s a joyrider’s dream . . . but one thing’s missing: There are 6,000 bicycles for rent but no bike helmets at the rental kiosks.

Looks like a public-health crisis in the making, and one perfect for Mayor Bloomberg. But Mike’s not interested in forcing bikers to wear helmets. To the contrary, he opposes legislation requiring riders to use that all-important safety gear.

What happened to our nanny-in-chief?

Bloomberg opposes bike helmet laws because they would “discourage biking” — and maybe he knows that if I was spotted getting into an accident on something that looks like this I probably wouldn’t want to live through it anyway. This situation is uncharacteristically lacking a Big Nanny™ presence, but from all appearances it’s only because Bloomberg is willing to sacrifice some bike riders in order to take action on global warming.

From a City report entitled “Bicycle Fatalities & Serious Injuries in New York City 1996-2005″:

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Wow. By not insisting on bike helmets, Bloomberg might as well be allowing people to pedal around on guns with wheels while feeding their babies powdered formula. But in the name of encouraging bike riding to save the planet, perhaps the theory is that you can’t make a sustainable omelette without breaking some unsustainable eggs.

Update: Speaking of needing a helmet

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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