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

4 thoughts on “Bike Regina’s stance on compulsary helmet laws”

  1. As the founder of biketoworkregina and a proud supporter of the rebranded bike Regina, I am very pleased with the tact taken in this response. Thoughtful and even handed.

    I was dismayed by the initial tweets, but this was well thought out and factual.

    Henning

  2. I very much appreciate the attempt to lobby against yet another helmet law. It’s quite clear that other helmet laws have been useless at best and disasters at worst. It’s also quite clear (if people would just look up the facts!) that riding a bike is quite safe. The fact is, helmets aren’t needed for bicycling any more than they are needed for walking down the street.

    But when are bike advocates going to stop shooting themselves in the foot by proclaiming their own helmet USE? I hate to be harsh, but it makes every such advocate sound like a liar or hypocrite!

    We’ve been brainwashed by Bell to think that avid bicyclists need a helmet with the uniform. But now many of us know the facts because we’ve seen the data. No, the risk DOESN’T call for protection. No, it DOESN’T make you safer. But yes, it DOES make people think that riding a bike is only for the brave. And it bolsters the calls for laws!

    When I learned the REAL facts on helmets I gave mine up. Now I don’t miss it. I don’t have to find space for it on vacations. I don’t have to protect the delicate thing from damage when I’m not wearing it. I don’t worry about locking it to the bike or carrying it around in stores. And I’m not sending the wrong message to those who see me ride.

    It’s time for other bicycling leaders to do the same. If you want to wear it mountain biking, fine. Wear it racing, fine. But lets show that an ordinary trip to the store is not a fearsome thing. No more hypocrisy!

    1. Like many technologies in our lives, they can be used for good, or bad. I use my helmet for good, it doesn’t get in the way, and gives me comfort should I be in another collision with a vehicle that isn’t my fault.

      Clearly helmet laws are not needed in Canada, because it’s mostly non-cyclists calling for them, in replacement of better technology and infrastructure that makes cyclists safer in reality.

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