It looks like the Ontario Legislature is squeezing in compulsory bicycle (and rollerblade, scooter and skateboard helmets) through a private member’s bill. The sponsor is John Milloy, Liberal MPP for Kitchener Central.
The bill’s proper name is Bill 129, Highway Traffic Amendment Act, 2004, and is described as:
The Bill amends the Highway Traffic Act to make it an offence for any person to use a skateboard, a scooter, in-line skates or roller skates on a highway without wearing a helmet. …
Wearing a helmet doesn’t save as many lives as having more people on bikes would (source: Helmet Effect Undetectable in Fatality Trends, compiled from Transport Canada data) . It interferes with utility cycling, where the bicycle is an integrated part of urban mobility, and doesn’t need special clothing or restrictions.
John Milloy’s apparent motivation for this bill was the death of a friend in a rollerblading accident on the Rideau Canal. While I’m genuinely sorry that this happened, I don’t see any bicycle or highway involved here. I wonder if Mr Milloy is indeed a cyclist at all?
It looks like this bill will be discussed at a panel next Monday, so there’s very little time to act. What you can do:
- Follow the steps in the OCBC Anti-Bill 129 Campaign.
- Don’t know who your MPP is? Find your electoral district. (Mine’s Lorenzo Berardinetti.)
- Read these, provided by Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists:
- Mandatory bicycle helmet law in Western Australia
- Commentary on “A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets”.
- John Franklin’s Bicycle Helmets Page. John Franklin, author of the wonderful book Cyclecraft, is sceptical. (I reviewed Cyclecraft for VeloVision; here’s the archived PDF copy: Three Books About Biking).
- The Vehicular Cyclist
Is it coincidence that the countries with more and safer cycling are where fewest cyclists wear helmets?
It doesn’t help their cause that advocates of the bill support assaulting cyclists. Michael Prue, MPP for Beaches/East York, was quoted in The Star as saying:
There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t see someone on the streets of Toronto, an adult, with no helmet on their head, and I want to get out of my car or off the sidewalk and I want to grab them and I want to shake them.
Why don’t you get out your car, Michael, and do something sane, like ride a bike?
This bill does nothing to support cycling skill, and will waste police and legislature time. If they really want to do something for cycling in Ontario, how about:
- automatic fault on the motor vehicle driver until proven otherwise, as in some European countries.
- wide right lanes (not bike lanes) required on all new urban roads.