Back-Seat Driver

Should all cyclists wear helmets?

A draft report this week said trains won’t be stopping at the Dixon “depot” anytime soon. The city built the depot a decade ago and recently added a pedestrian underpass at the tracks. But the report says train stops in Dixon are still several years away.
A draft report this week said trains won’t be stopping at the Dixon “depot” anytime soon. The city built the depot a decade ago and recently added a pedestrian underpass at the tracks. But the report says train stops in Dixon are still several years away. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Do helmets make bicycling safer? If so, are they useful enough that the state should require every cyclist to wear one?

That’s suddenly become a debated topic in California. A few weeks ago, Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge, introduced a bill that would have required all bicyclists in California, regardless of age, to wear helmets when cycling. Currently, riders under age 18 in California must wear helmets.

The Liu plan didn’t last long. Cycling advocates opposed the legislation, saying bicycling is pretty safe in the first place and that they feared the bill would discourage some people from taking up the activity.

Liu backed off, but not entirely. Her staff looked around and determined there is no comprehensive analysis in California about the effectiveness of helmets for cycling. So she dropped the requirement and amended the bill. It now instructs the state Office of Traffic Safety and California Highway Patrol to do a comprehensive study of bicycle helmet use, including looking at how many riders use or don’t use helmets, and to try to determine whether severe injuries and deaths during crashes could have been prevented if a cyclist were wearing a helmet.

Liu’s latest statement: “I believe all bicycle riders should wear a helmet, and I encourage more people to try riding a bike. But a wide variety of opinion currently exists about the potential benefits of adult helmet use. Data from a study will help guide the legislature in making decisions that can protect bicycle riders and expand bicycle use.”

The Office of Traffic Safety is finishing up a similar study that shows helmet use among motorcyclists has reduced serious head injuries and fatalities, but OTS official Chris Cochran said that doesn’t necessarily translate directly to bicyclists. “A separate study would have to be done for cyclists.”

No train now for Dixon

Dixon won’t be getting trains anytime soon. A new report suggests the little Solano County city may have to wait another decade to learn when and even whether it can qualify to become a stop for Capitol Corridor passenger trains and possibly for Amtrak trains.

Dixon built a small “depot” building next to the rail tracks downtown a decade ago. It recently added a pedestrian underpass at the tracks. The city still likely will have to build an undercrossing nearby at A Street. That costly groundwork appears to have a distant payoff date. A draft report from the Solano Transportation Authority this week says Dixon is a candidate for a train stop, but not yet. The report’s authors suggest the topic be taken up again in 2020 or 2025.

For now, Solano and Capitol Corridor officials are focused on getting a new station a few miles away, between Vacaville and Fairfield, up and running in the next few years. Then, they say, they can get a better handle on whether there are enough potential riders in Dixon to warrant a station.

Dixon Public Works chief Joe Leach said the Solano rail facilities update contained no surprises, just confirmation that the city must continue its work. Capitol Corridor trains also stop in Davis, Sacramento, Auburn and in the Bay Area.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

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