The Howard County Council took the following actions at its July 30 meeting. For more information, call 992-2001.

HELMET LAW CHANGE -- The council voted 3 to 2 to change a new county law requiring all bike riders to wear helmets, limiting the law to bike riders under age 16.

Adult bike riders should not be required to wear helmets because they are more observant and responsible riders, said Councilman Vernon Gray, the amendment's sponsor. Gray said he opposes requiring adults to wear bike helmets when the state of Maryland doesn't require motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

"Why can adults not ride a bicycle {without a helmet} when they can ride a motorcycle," Gray said.

Council members Angela Beltram and Charles Feaga voted against the amendment. Both cited testimony showing that more adults than children are injured or killed nationwide in bicycle accidents.

According to bicycle associations, the bike helmet law, passed by the council in May, made Howard County the first jurisdiction in the nation to require bicyclists to wear helmets. The law requires all bicyclists to wear bike helmets when riding on public roads or bike paths in the county, and authorizes police to fine violators of the helmet law $25 to $50 for the first offense and $50 to $100 for each subsequent offense.

The law allows judges to waive fines for first offenders who prove they bought a helmet after being ticketed.

Feaga, who sponsored the original helmet bill, said he introduced the legislation after he was contacted by teachers and parents at Glenwood Middle School in western Howard County who were concerned because three bicyclists have been killed on county roads in the past three years.

Bicycle clubs and bicycle industry trade groups generally oppose helmet laws, saying such rules are difficult to enforce and that the cost of helmets -- roughly $25 to $100 -- could make bicycling prohibitively expensive for some people.

The amended law will take effect in October.

HOUSING APPOINTEES -- The council appointed seven county residents to the new Howard County Housing Commission, created earlier this month to administer low-income housing programs in the county.

The commission will oversee the spending of $3.3 million worth of state and county funds that have been earmarked for the creation of an additional 100 low- and moderate-income housing units in the county. The new units will include the 24-unit Allfa Pines complex in Ellicott City, former luxury town houses now being converted into low-income housing at a cost of $1.6 milion.

Named to the commission were Dale Schumacher, a medical consultant; John Bond, a bank president; James Landerkin, chairman of the county's Housing and Community Development Board; John Liparini, a developer; Monroe Saunders, a minister; and Barbara Peart, Madonna Wyatt and Jerome Colt, advocates for low-income housing.