Skaters Shun Helmets and Warnings

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A week after a 12-year-old skateboarder was taken away from the new Memphis Skate Park by a police officer, handcuffed, and put in a squad car for not wearing a helmet, the majority of skaters seem to prefer not wearing helmets.

The park attracted about 30 people on a sunny Friday afternoon and most of them were not wearing helmets. On Tuesday, the Memphis City Council passed an ordinance requiring "the use of helmets for personal safety during skating and other activities within the skate parks." Violators face a $50 fine and a court appearance.

Signs at the park says "Skate At Your Own Risk" and "all participants must wear a helmet."

City attorney Herman Morris Jr. said the Division of Parks and the council have fulfilled their duty.

"We think it gives adequate notice," he said.

He declined to comment on the police arrest last week.

The city's liability is limited to $300,000 per injured individual. Morris said claims of personal injury "are all over the map" for everything from car accidents to slip-and-falls to grass-cutting crews kicking up pebbles to bicyclists getting tires caught in the Madison Avenue Trolley tracks. The city budget includes a self-insured fund in anticipation of claims.

Bikers under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets by state law. Morris said that in car-bike accidents, those involved generally wind up suing each other rather than the city.

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