messengers react to new helmet law
By Justin Rocket Silverman,
amNewYork, July 27, 2007
In an effort to make one of the most dangerous jobs in New York a
little safer, the city on Thursday began mandating that every delivery
worker and messenger riding a bike be equipped with a helmet, horn, and
While there was a noticeable increase in the number of helmeted
cyclists in midtown yesterday, there were still many speeding about
sans head protection.
"It cost us some money, but we are complying," said Oz Belton, manager
of Quik Trak Messenger Service, which deploys up to 30 bike messengers
daily. "Some of the veterans would rather not wear a helmet, but they
will do it to avoid the ticket."
The rules require that employers provide the safety equipment to
workers. Business owners face fines of up to $250 and 15 days in jail
for failure to do so. An individual messenger can be ticketed $30 for
not wearing a helmet and ID tag.
One restaurant delivery man who asked not to be named said he had not
heard of the new rules. A bike messenger who asked to be identified
only as Q said he was aware, but had no plans to don a helmet.
"I've been doing this job 20 years and have yet to sustain an injury
that would have been prevented by wearing a helmet," he said. "These
laws are made by people who have no idea what it's like to ride a bike
in traffic. All they are doing is harassing us."
As Q was speaking, a cyclist rode by with overstuffed bags of Chinese
food delivery dangling from his handlebars. His shiny red helmet was
obviously brand new, and it glinted in the sunlight as he turned the
wrong way up Seventh Avenue and swerved to avoid oncoming traffic.