Joey Michels knows Miltons skate park well. He goes there often and calls it one of the best skate parks around.
But he doesnt like that he and his fellow skaters must wear helmets when they use it. The requirement keeps some people away, the 27-year-old Fife man said. Hes glad to hear the helmet rule soon will end.
The Milton City Council last week repealed the section of city code, in place since 1997, mandating that people riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters and roller skates in public places wear helmets.
Miltons insurance authority, in a review of city code, pointed out that the city on the north edge of Pierce County opens itself to liability if it has a helmet law it doesnt enforce.
At a time when city resources are stretched thin, helmet enforcement is a real drain, said Police Chief Bill Rhoads.
Rhoads estimated roughly 15 no-helmet tickets have been issued in the past year. Violators may have to pay up to $76.
Mayor Debra Perry said city officials also want to be consistent with state law. Theres no state law requiring bicyclists to wear helmets; the same apparently goes for skateboarders.
Some counties, cities and towns around the state do have their own helmet requirements.
The state Department of Transportation tracks communities with bicycle helmet rules. In the South Sound, they include Pierce County, Tacoma, Lakewood and Puyallup.
Experts say helmets help prevent head injuries and lead to savings in medical costs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says bicycle helmet laws have proven to increase helmet use.
The city ordinance repealing the helmet rules still must meet legal notice requirements and will likely go into effect within the next few weeks, said Subir Mukerjee, city administrator.
Milton officials said they still want people to wear helmets at the popular Milltown Commons Skatepark at Milton Way and 23rd Avenue, as well as other spots around the city.
We strongly recommend people wear helmets, Perry said. We strongly advise that people keep themselves safe.
At the skate park on one afternoon last week, Michels and his friend, Isaac Castellon, 23, also of Fife, both said they feel its a good idea for children to wear them. They dont understand the consequences of getting hurt, Michels said.
But both men believe adults should have the choice.
Its a public park, Castellon said, and were responsible for ourselves.