Repeal mandatory bike helmet legislation
Vancouver will never convince anyone of being the 'greenest' city without a huge modal shift towards cycling (walking, and transit).
Such a shift will not happen until the average Vancouverite cycles on a daily basis. This will not happen without better infrastructure, progressive policy, AND repealing mandatory helmet legislation.
Yes, this is a provincial law. However, I am sure that Vancouver has the ability to make this change happen.
p.s., the safety and health benefits of more people cycling far outweigh the potential safety benefits of bicycle helmets.
eat my shorts commented
stupid is as stupid does.
Don't where your helmet and see what happens.
There's enough moron drivers on the road to be the sole reason to where a helmet. If you don't your stupid. plain and simple.
I will never ever support making helmets optional. You cannot place value on an individual's life and wearing a helmet is just as sensical a law as requiring people to wear seatbelts in cars.
Steven Forth commented
I personally wear a helmet at all times when I am riding one of my own bikes, and as i have been knocked off my bike by a car (in Boston not Vancouver) I am glad I do. But if we are to introduce a bike rental system like Montreal, Paris etc. we will almost certainly have to repeal helmet legislation. I have used these systems in Montreal, Copenhagen and Paris (sometimes as a tourist, sometimes as the best way to get to a business meeting) and I don't normallyhave a helmet available in these situations. I do think this needs more study though.
Janna L. Sylvest commented
What is the objection to wearing a helmet? Is it analogous to objecting to mandatory seat belt legislation? Or to objecting to speed cameras for issuing tickets for speed offenses? I don't understand the link between not wearing a helmet and achieving a positive environmental impact change.
Fantastic idea...I just laid down 3 votes. "The health gains of more people cycling FAR outweigh the potential safety gains of more helmet wearing". Brilliant in its simplicity. It is simply a fact that statistically and practically speaking, bike helmets don't save lives.
So why then does the government want to police my safety? The reason is simple – it’s a cash grab.
If you don't feel safe, wear a helmet - if YOU want to. And if you forget it one day on your way to work, you can make a donation to the government too - if YOU want to.
The tougher question is why do other citizens want to police my safety? I might go skydiving this weekend? Is that ok? Do you want to hold my hand when I cross the street?
There is a reason there are too many rules in this City, and in certain parts of the world more generally. The reason is simple - ignorance. Perhaps somebody should start a campaign of like minded individuals. This is not the only blog on this site where ignorance is flourishing.
The safety of the environment depends on people having a bit of common sense. How can we expect people to support massive, important changes at the industrial and corporate level, and in the energy sector in particular, when people cannot seem to grasp the inherent simplicity, benefit and common sense of this idea?
I don't let any member of my family out of my house and on a bike without a helmet and appreciate having the law to back mom up!
JFK freedom to choose commented
Right to choose. I don't ride fast and I stay off major roadways. I DO NOT
BELIEVE IN FORCING PEOPLE TO WEAR HELMETS. When are we going to draw the line here. Canada is turning into an over protective mother. Might as well be walking around in bubble wrap and wearing wrist gaurds when your walking...you never know,...ridiculous. If you want to wear a helmet wear one, if you do not then don't and lets start to get people together to take this law down. Why would people fight for this to be law, I mean if you want to wear one then go ahead why force other people to. And the line " well I don't want my tax money paying for your hospital care" geese what a joke get a life.
Tammy, Lesli, K and anyone else with a helmet-saved-my-life anecdote: please do keep wearing helmets, and please do encourage everyone you know to wear helmets.
The point is that it should not be against the law to cycle sans-casque. Many people currently don't bother wearing them when cruising gently round the seawall. I see no problem with that, and would love the law to reflect that. Eating regularly at A&W increases your mortality, but that's not illegal. Commuting by car is bad for your health AND for my health, but that's perfectly legal here.
By all means crack down on dangerous cycling and driving: skipping red lights, scaring pedestrians etc. Get the mountain-bikers out of the city, and back onto the mountains.
But don't discourage people from cycling to work because they have dress differently than if they drove their open-top convertible (head protection?), walked, roller-bladed, or whatever.
I only wear a helmet in the winter. Why? To keep my rain-hood snug on my head so that it doesn't get cold and wet. I also put lights on my helmet rather than my bike so they don't get stolen. These are the only reasons I wear a helmet. I never wear a helmet in the summer. Cracking down on helmet-free cyclists is pointless.
Thank you to all the drivers and cyclists who warn cyclists about cops on bike routes ticketing the helmet-free. Keep spreading the word when you see cops harrassing cyclists like this. (And a big middle finger to all you helmet nazis out there!) And thank you to all cyclists who ride in solidarity with the helmet-free. The more helmet-free there are on the roads, the less the cops will bother wasting their time ticketing us.
"Sacrifice a few more lives for the enviroment?"
Any study ever done one the issue has shown that you save FAR MORE lives by repealing helmet laws and so encouraging more cycling than the other way around.
Dying in cycling accidents is a very, very, very, very, very minor occurrence in the grand scheme of things.
How many people die from disease related to obesity, CVD, etc? Exponentially more.
And, how many people die directly and indirectly ffrom DRIVING? Exponentially more.
If you are a proponent of bike helmets, then you should be a proponent of mandatory driving helmets.
Steven Forth commented
This is a tough one. Having used the systems in Paris, Montreal and Copenhagen I can appreciate how much they do to improve cycling in a city. But in Vancouver and Boston I always wear a helmet and I suspect on one occasion it saved my life or at least prevented a more serious head injury. I think this needs more study.
Sacrifice a few more lives for the enviroment?
A bicycle helmet has never saved anyone's life... at least it has never been proven scientifically to have ever done so -- yes I can hear you guffawing. Of course plenty of people "feel" that this has occurred, and of course they can't actually prove it.
Haven't you ever wondered why when cyclists who were wearing helmets die after a motorist has collided with them that the media doesn't bother adding the tag line, "and they 'were' wearing a helmet," at the end of the article. And doesn't it give you pause that even though our government brought this law in because, as they claimed, "it will save lives" the helmet manufactures wouldn't dream of making such a claim as they know they would be sued into poor house; they leave that kind of BS to the (possibly) well intentioned, yet misguided, and certainly ill-informed groups (that inlcudes doctors) who for whatever reason are so willing to do their bidding. And there has been no change in the rate of head injuries to cyclist since this law has been on the books.
There are facts and there are fantasies when it comes to helmets and to know the difference is a simple matter of some rather easy research. Helmets don't save lives. They can't. They aren't made for that and if a helmet manufacturer is cornered, they will have to admit it. Mandatory helmet laws do harm our health as they contribute to the culture of fear that keeps perfectly capable people off of one of the best things they could do to improve their lives.
And sorry Arno, there are some people saying that you shouldn't wear a helmet. They have read the studies (and are convinced by them) that suggest that people who wear helmets are far more likely then un-helmeted cyclists to get into an accident of any kind. They understand that a helmet can be a distraction if it's uncomfortable and distractions when you ride a bike are not a good idea. They know what risk compensation is and know that it's a fact. They have ridden bicycles their entire lives and know few people who have ever injured their heads and many more who have never had any kind of accident. And they know something else... cycling is one of the single safest activities that anyone could participate in and it's benefit to risk ratio is better than almost anything we could glean to do... and that's un-helmeted.
There is no study (that has survived peer review) that can point to one single benefit for an adult to wearing a bicycle helmet as we know them today. This against the massive harm they have done to bike culture and our personal, societal and global health makes the choice an easy one for some.
If this goes against your common sense it's no surprise. The statement that a helmet will save your life has been so repeated that no one bothers to question it anymore.
Look it up. The truth is out there.
Maybe the government should repeal this law. The cost of healthcare for someone with a head injury is much higher than giving death benefits.
It's just common sense which many people don't have. How many drivers don't use a seatbelt or how many parents don't use kids car seats?
Don't ask for pity when a ACCIDENT happens, it's your decision.
Wow, emotional arguments on the anti-helmet side as well as the pro side.
Europe is great, and we need their cycling culture from city hall to driving costs to fashion of arriving sweaty with or without a hat or helmet. Helmet presence or absence don't make a culture... get over it. The police should enforce helmet law less, but don't make it a huge focus, how reactionary and counterintutive. Focus on the main things: infrastructure, fun events, police enforcement of driver endangerment of cyclists, driver ed. and defensive cycling.
Personally I agree that targeting infrastructure and driving speed as well as driver education and error will be more effective in protecting cyclist safety en masse than helmets and putting onus on cyclists. Read the supreme court case law on cyclist accidents and you'll have a perspective change on what causes accidents for sure.
Nevertheless, I don't think we should get rid of the helmet law, because it is an incentive to buy a helmet, and most tickets only require that you buy one instead of prescribing a fine. Oddly I bought my first helmet to look cool, but didn't wear it when I started uni where it wasn't law to wear one... peer pressure. I bought my second upon moving to BC to comply with the law, and thankfully wore it.
I've been hit hard twice by cars, and the first time was very lucky not to bash my head (carrying but not wearing my helmet at the time, as I'd been peer pressured into not wearing it in my early 20s..._) while feeling the car whiz past inches away and flying at it and the pavement after being hit from behind. The second time years later here in Van, I rolled in midair and bounced the back of my head hard on the ground after being hit from the side by someone running a stop sign on a bike route.... Maybe I wouldn't have died and entered the statistics of cyclist lives either way, but I know several head and face-injured cyclists too busy coping with daily life now to join lobby groups, and feel fortunate not to have found out whether that later hit could have made me one too. It's sad, but I fully support helmet law (perhaps less enforced than the above driver ed considerations) as helmets definitely reduce head injury risk at low speeds like both my painful collisions. Of course there are more serious injuries at speed, but most accidents are low speed.
As for the bike sharing scheme, why not just make a loophole in the helmet law that waives it for participants? The federal government (or was it the province of BC?) has done that for boating operator training: only operators of rented boats need not show proof of passing a safety course. Liability is with an insurance company, and the operator as with most outdoor gear rentals.
Parents will still have to figure something out for kids. Kids fall all over the place. Skating helmets and snowboarding helmets are taking off, so why the fuss about cycling ones for kids?
Anyone trying to make a strong case that helmets are just over the top and unbearable should try clonking their head hard against the pavement by surprise and with unexpected help from someone else before they keep browbeating us with how unfashionable and useless they are. I want a review of ALL literature, not just a set of a few favourite links, or I won't be convinced, having clonked my own head and enjoyed a helmet. It's emotional... but so are you, you helmet haters.
@Tammy: Yes, tragedies like this happen. However, how many pedestrians and other drivers have been the victim of the same kind of accident? Many, many more and they are not forced to wear helmets.
Anecdotes are an easy way to tap into people's emotions. Fear is far more powerful than logic -- particularly somewhat counter-intuitive logic.
Yes, we need to tame motor vehicles, but we also need free non-cyclists to use their bicycle.
More cyclists -- helmetless or not -- means safer cycling and less accidents like this.
Also, your friends may have been better or worse off should they have not been cycling.
You can still WEAR A HELMET without legislation.
We need driver and rider education far more than we need helmets.
Helmet legislation has NEVER proven to reduce injury or fatality rate.
Tammy Everts commented
@MZan: I beg to differ. It's been exactly one year since my friend and four of his cycling buddies were mowed down by a minivan at high speed. They all survived -- though two have permanent brain damage -- because of their helmets. I invite you to read this article about their story:
Cycling is not dangerous!!
Cycling is safer then walking, and much safer then driving!
Promoting helmets is simple fear-mongering. A cycle helmet will do you little good if a Hummer is barreling down at you at 60 km/h! Cycle helmets are designed for simple, low-speed falls, NOT MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISIONS! It does not matter if people cycle in motor vehicle lanes or not, helmets do not improve cyclist safety in motor vehicle crashes. This victim blaming strategy needs to stop now! The focus should be on dangerous driving, which primarily manifests itself through over-speeding, and insufficient space margins while passing. That is where the threat is perceived...from cars, and it is not eliminated by putting a piece of styrofoam on your head. Target resources for the AVOIDANCE of collisions by slowing down motor vehicles where cars and bicycles mix, provide physically separated infrastructure and education for both cyclists and motorists on what constitutes appropriate behaviour on the road. And even though we don't have the infrastructure of Copenhagen, it is safe and healthy to cycle, and by doing so, you are making it even safer to cycle. Now that is a win-win!
❤ Sophie commented
Unless we have separate and dedicated bike lanes across the city (like in China and Europe), we still need to enforce the bike helmet law. I ride a bike and see cyclist riding in car lanes all the time, and it's very dangerous to begin with!
1. a bike share program will be an expensive failure if we require helmets - it defeats the whole purpose of a bike share program, which is the idea that people can pick up bikes on a whim for short trips.
2. relying on anecdotes about helmets saving lives is not the way to make policy. The studies on helmets saving lives are ambiguous at best, and are certainly contradictory.
3. no city with any significant mode share of bikes has a law requiring helmets. We could try to be the first, or we could realize that whether we like it or not, requiring helmets discourages people from biking. What do we want more - 3-4% of the population on bikes with helmets or 10-40% of the population on bikes with only some wearing helmets?
4. Interesting article in the Vancouver Sun the other day on this issue: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Wearing+bike+helmet+might+make+safer/3239860/story.html