MUSKEGON, Mich. — Those hitting the streets for Bike Time 2013 in Muskegon now have the freedom to let the wind flow through their hair without obstruction by a helmet.
“I like the choice. I know I should probably wear one, but I really prefer not to,” said Larry VanderZee, a Grand Rapids bike enthusiast. VanderZee is taking advantage of his new freedom at the bike event.
“I’ll be really sorry if I ever go down I’m sure,” VanderZee said.
The new law was signed by the governor before Bike Time in 2012. However, this year more and more riders appear to be aware of the change.
“I’ve ridden since I was in high school and I always had to wear helmets. So, it’s a nice break,” VanderZee said.
Ironically, at the Hot Rod Harley-Davidson Dealership in Muskegon, helmet sales have actually increased.
“It’s kind of odd that we’re up in a year they passed a law you don’t have to wear one,” said Clyde Whitehouse, owner. He says sales for helmets have increased by approximately 20 percent.
“Maybe part of it is the awareness of helmets and the people who feel like they want to wear them, they want a safer helmet,” Whitehouse added.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association says helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries for drivers and 41 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to passengers.
A study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute indicates that motorcycle fatalities increased by 18 percent from 2011 to 2012. It goes on to say that fatalities would have decreased by 21 percent if Michigan did not repeal its helmet law. However, some are not convinced.
“I`m not so sure it`s because of no helmets, there’s also more bikers every year, so rates are going to go up,” VanderZee said.
Bike Time events kicked off Thursday, July 18, at 6 p.m.