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Health News Florida

Bare Headed Bikers Gearing Up For Helmet Law Fight

James "Doc," Reichenbach, who heads ABATE Florida, lobbied 16 years ago to let adult motorcycle operators ride without helmets. A freshman lawmaker wants to repeal the exemption.
James "Doc," Reichenbach, who heads ABATE Florida, lobbied 16 years ago to let adult motorcycle operators ride without helmets. A freshman lawmaker wants to repeal the exemption.

After feeling the wind in their hair for 16 years, Florida motorcycle riders would have to strap on helmets again if Republican Representative Don Hahnfeldt of The Villages has his way.

James "Doc," Reichenbach, who heads ABATE Florida, lobbied 16 years ago to let adult motorcycle operators ride without helmets. A freshman lawmaker wants to repeal the exemption.
James "Doc," Reichenbach, who heads ABATE Florida, lobbied 16 years ago to let adult motorcycle operators ride without helmets. A freshman lawmaker wants to repeal the exemption.

Motorcycle riders in Florida were forced to wear headgear for 33 years before the Legislature was seized with a libertarian streak in 2000. American Bikers Aiming Toward Education Florida president James “Doc” Reichenbach, an unmistakable presence in the button-down Capitol with his intense gaze and leather riding vest, was there to fan the flames.

Reichenbach  insisted safety helmets are anything but. He says they restrict vision and muffle sound. And he’s ready to take up the banner again.

“A head was not built to wear that. I mean, even football players, when you see football players wearing helmets, a lot of them wear those neck braces to help the impact because if hurts so bad.”

Bikers who go bareheaded have to carry 10 thousand dollars in personal injury protection, and critics say that leaves taxpayers on the hook after catastrophic accidents. An insurance industry study showed motorcycle fatalities rose 49 percent two years after the helmet law was repealed.

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