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Bicycle helmet laws a no-brainer

A state lawmaker's proposal to require adult bicycle riders in Oregon to wear helmets disappeared last week almost as soon as it was floated. We don't understand why Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene crumbled so fast in the face of criticism from bicycle groups, but we wish he would recommit to the helmet-law idea.

Prozanski was on exactly the right path in suggesting that bicyclists of all ages - not just those under 17 - should be required by law to wear helmets.

Objections to such a law are based on personal freedom. But when it comes to vehicle safety, why should those who ride bicycles be treated differently from the operators of motorcycles or cars?

Oregon law requires that motorcyclists wear helmets. It requires that all drivers and passengers wear seat belts. The rationale for these laws is that society must pay the price of immediate and lifelong care when a helmetless motorcyclist suffers a head injury, or when someone who is not wearing a seat belt is hurt in a car wreck.

That exact rationale applies equally to bicyclists. If Prozanski isn't willing to pursue this safety initiative, then another legislator should take up the cause.