Bike Regina’s stance on compulsary helmet laws

Following the recent SUMA (Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association) vote to push the province for a law regarding compulsory all ages helmet usage. Our President and Board members wrote this letter. We hope that it will appear in the Leader Post on either Saturday the 7 or Monday the 10th of February 2015.

Here is a link to the original editorial. 

Bike Regina’s response.

I appreciate that municipal leaders at SUMA conference and the writer of the editorial recognize the importance of making changes to increase the health and safety of people who cycle in Saskatchewan’s communities. I regret that they support the flawed belief that helmet legislation would achieve that goal.

Allow me to preface my remarks with my support of helmet use.  Bike helmets provide the benefit of protecting the head from non-life-threatening impacts to the crown of the head in solo accidents at speeds under 20 km/hr.  For that reason, I choose to wear a helmet and encourage others to make that personal choice.

Helmet legislation does not improve the health of people who cycle.  It decreases the number of people who choose to ride, thus increasing obesity, heart disease, diabetes AND the cost to our health system.

Helmet legislation does not improve the overall safety of people who cycle. A helmet does nothing to prevent collisions nor does it protect against the majority of possible injuries.  In fact, studies have shown that drivers are more likely to drive closer to a cyclist wearing a helmet, thus increasing danger of collisions and injury.

To improve the safety of cyclists, legislators should move for improved infrastructure: protected bike lanes, bike boulevards and increased development of pathways.  They should advocate for improved education so that drivers and cyclists appropriately share the road when lacking bike infrastructure.  They should encourage ridership via tax credits or other benefits, as the more cyclists there are on the road, the safer the road is for all.

Again, I applaud legislators for considering the health and safety of people who cycle.  I’m sure riders and their families take it to heart. However, please don’t make the mistake of believing helmet legislation will protect them.

Sara Maria Daubisse

President, Bike Regina