Tupelo City Council gets serious about helmets

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A proposed ordinance requiring helmets for all youth who bicycle, skateboard, rollerblade and ride electric scooters and ATVs is on hold this week after City Council concerns.
Instead, a public safety campaign could take its place.
The ordinance was proposed by members of the Tupelo Department of Development Services, who said it’d prevent serious head injuries among those most likely to crash.
It’d apply to everyone age 16 and under.
While most council members agreed with the spirit of the rule, many said it’d be difficult to enforce. As evidence, they cited frequent violations of the city’s existing ordinance.
It mandates helmets for cyclists of all ages, but does not apply to other self-propelled vehicles or to ATVs. Most council members said they often see children and adults riding without helmets.
“If we don’t enforce what’s on the table now, we don’t need to be adding to it,” said council President Fred Pitts during a work session Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.
Ward 5 Councilman Jonny Davis said the new ordinance would weaken current requirements by excluding adults.
Yet all agreed the issue is serious and merits attention. Some, including Pitts and Development Services Director BJ Teal, suggested a public safety campaign to achieve their goal.
“We could give helmets away,” Teal said.
No decisions were reached at the 20-minute discussion. But the city’s police department will be consulted on the matter.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.