The Regina city council has struck down a proposed bylaw which would have required all cyclists to wear a Canadian Standards Association approved helmet. The bylaw was spearheaded by Regina city Councillor Bob Hawkins, who argued that many brain injuries and life changing accidents could be avoided by requiring cyclists to wear helmets.
The use of bicycle helmets is mandatory in B. C., New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. In Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, the use of helmets is mandatory only for cyclists under the age of 18. Currently, the province of Saskatchewan has no mandatory helmet laws.
Although the Councillor Hawkins clearly had the safety of cyclists in mind, Bike Regina suggested that the proposed $29 fine would deter more Reginans from using bikes as transportation. “Enforcing safety equipment, such as helmets is the least effective control for improved safety. It puts the burden of safety on the cyclist,” Bike Regina told Global News.
“A better and more responsible way to improve safety is to isolate people from the hazard with protected cycling lanes and we hope that the city will execute on these proposed projects in the TMP [Regina’s Transportation Master Plan].”
Protected bike lanes have been proven as an effective means of reducing crash rates for both cars and cyclists. There is also a growing field of evidence to support the ‘strength in numbers’ theory, suggesting that as the number of cyclists on the road increases, the injury rate reduces and drivers are more cautious.
“We are in a pandemic. We are in a time where we actually want people to go out and cycle and get exercise,” said Councillor Lori Bresciani.
Instead of the helmet law, the Regina city council chose instead to educate the public on bike safety. Regina says they will create a public awareness campaign on safe cycling while encouraging residents to wear a helmet. The city will also look into requiring motorists to give at least a one-metre gap when passing a cyclist, a law already in place in many Canadian cities.
“We need bike lanes and infrastructure more than we need a bylaw right now,” said Councillor Barbara Young.