By Jim Bowman
God knows, we love a law. So let's have one. Take bike helmets, please. Situation: kids ride bikes, kids fall off bikes. kids hit head on pavement, get concussion, die or worse. This is Oak Park. It can happen here, but it must not happen here, let's forbid it. Pass a law. Is that simple enough for you?
Some say it won't be enforced, this new law condemning parents to community service (watching bike racks in shifts, like outside the old Ridgeland Pool door, lest they be ripped off, for instance):
. . . the revised ordinance eliminates the fine and replaces it with possible community service for the parent if they cannot provide proof they [he or she, including single moms or dads already
working two or more jobs?] have acquired a helmet for their kid.
So what? It won't be enforced:
The chances of a youngster [as before revision mentioned above] getting a $25 ticket from a cop for not wearing a helmet are remote. The likelihood of a parent spending four hours doing community service because they didn't see to it that their kid's noggin was protected is also slight.
Because it sets a fair expectation for parents and kids that the norm in Oak Park is for young people to wear a helmet. That allows public education campaigns to drive home the point. It allows police officers and other figures of authority to strongly remind kids that helmets are required. These steps have value. And raising the consciousness level of parents and kids to this communal expectation of public safety is worthwhile.
Heightened expectations, public education, police freedom to be lovable protectors of people they see in danger, raising parents' consciousness levels from their abysmal depths, more heightened expectation — all that and probably much, much more.
If that doesn't justify passing an unenforceable law, anyhow not to be enforced, certainly not equitably, what, I ask you, in the name of all that's good and holy and civic-minded in the glorious Oak Park tradition, I pray you, WHAT DOES?