Regulation

Town Runs Out of Money, Takes Bike Helmet Laws Off the Books

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The annual revenue of Milton, Washington, has dropped from $4.9 million in 2010 to a projected $3.9 million this year. And—unlike nearly every other unit of government in the United States today—the small town has decided to respond to the drop in revenue by doing less stuff. Novel.

In addition to cutting deals with neighboring towns to provide firefighting and library services, Milton has axed its activities director. And when an insurance consultant pointed out that having a bunch of laws on the books that the town is utterly unable to enforce is a bad idea…well, let's let The New York Times tell it:

An inability to enforce a law on the books…created administrative unevenness that — in the event of an accident by someone who was not nagged or cited about helmet use — posed a liability risk that could bankrupt the community with one swipe from a punitive-minded jury.

And plaudits to this rare small town mayor, Debra Perry, who possesses the ability—rare in politicians—to distinguish between things that are stupid and things that should be illegal:

"Of course you should wear a helmet," she said in an interview in her office. "But this is a parents issue — parents need to be supervising their children, making sure their children are well dressed and have helmets on. Wearing flip-flops and shorts and no helmets on skateboards and bikes is just stupid."

More on helmet laws. We are out of money.