HB 1487, the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act passed the House today by a vote of 95-18. Debate centered on whether we should mandate helmets on 4-lane highways (the bill does not, and current law does not speak to this) and whether bicycles should be on 4-lane highways at all (current law allows them to be). The bill was held on a motion to reconsider, and I expect two amendments to be offered towards these two issues tomorrow.
The problem with the proposed helmet requirement is one of practicality. In my district, scores of students bike from apartments on 98 or 49 to make their way to Southern Miss. There's no room to store a helmet while they're in class. And there's a certain degree of liberty and risk one assumes when climbing on a bicycle. While I certaintly advocate helmets for children, I don't think government should mandate a helmet law for adults.
As far as the 4-lane highways, well, banning bicycles from those areas basically knocks out students living on those thoroughfares from biking to school. It also puts a major dent in the number of cyclists who enjoy biking on all of Mississippi's roadways (except interstates, which federal law prohibits). And you could make the argument that biking on a 4-lane highway is safer than a 2-lane highway because the motorist has more room to pass.
All that to say, I hope we can beat back these two amendments tomorrow and get the bill over to the Senate.