John Milloy responds

From: John Milloy MPP <jmilloy.mpp/ at />
Subject: RE: Bill 129, Highway Traffic Amendment Act, 2004

November 19, 2004

Dear Mr. Russell,

Thank you for contacting my office about Bill 129, the Highway Traffic Amendment Act. I appreciate your comments and I have noted your concerns about this legislation.

As you may know, on Thursday November 4, 2004 my Private Members Bill, Bill 129, unanimously passed second reading in the Legislature and was referred to the Social Policy Committee of the Legislature of further review. I was extremely pleased with the tri-party unanimous support for the Bill, and by the overwhelming support I have received from Ontarians throughout the province.

The bill proposes to change the existing Highway Traffic Act by making it mandatory for all individuals to wear a certified helmet when cycling, in line skating, skateboarding, etc. on public roadways.

The changes I have proposed in my Bill will have a significant impact on the number of brain injuries suffered by Ontarians as a result of road accidents involving cyclists in line skaters etc. For example, it has been calculated by the ThinkFirst Foundation of Canada, that if every adult bicyclist wore a helmet, 50 Ontarians would be saved from incurring a serious brain injury annually. Combined with the injuries prevented when in line skating, skateboarding or using other kinds of non-motorized wheeled vehicles on roadways and you have an enormous savings for our health care system – $4-$9 million over the course of a single victims lifetime – and a priceless emotional and physical gain for individuals and families throughout the province.

Beyond what the legislation will legally change, my goal with Bill 129 is to create a culture of safety in Ontario. As much as we like to think we are invincible, we are not. Head injuries do not discriminate on the basis of age or the type of wheeled recreational vehicle an individual is operating. Further, head injuries can result in the tragic loss of life, the shattering of hopes, or amoung other things, countless hours of rehabilitation.

Head injuries as a result of an in line skating, bike, skateboard or other wheeled recreational vehicle accident can be prevented by as much as 85% by wearing a simple helmet. Despite this, many individuals have not chosen to wear a certified helmet when operating these vehicles. I do not believe that the inconvenience of wearing a helmet outweighs the personal and financial cost of a potential injury and that is why I have sponsored this Legislation.

I recognize that regardless of the aforementioned statistics and arguments that you may still have concerns about the Bill. Please be assured that I will be tracking Ontarians views on Bill 129 as it proceeds through the legislative process, and that I will take each and every thought and suggestion into consideration.

Thank you again for taking the time to comment on The Highway Traffic Amendment Act. If you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.



John Milloy MPP
Kitchener Centre

Note: For your information I have consulted with the following organizations about Bill 129

Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
Ontario Medical Association
Ontario Brain Injury Association
ThinkFirst Foundation of Canada
Association of Municipal Emergency Medical Services
Region of Waterloo Emergency Medical Services
Region of Waterloo Police Service
Toronto Police Service
Participation House – WR
Ontario Cycling Association
Various local cycling organizations
District and Public Health Offices
Many medical professionals
Canada Safety Council

I am still meeting, writing and talking with groups and individuals on this issue, and I will continue to do so while the Bill proceeds through the legislative process. Further, when the Bill reaches the committee stage there is possibility that there will be public hearings held.


You’ve got to love bicycle helmet advocates:

This bill is absolutely right. I, quite frankly, am not going to bear any arguments. I’m not going to hear them, I don’t want to hear them, about whether we have enough police to enforce it. We need it to be enforced. We need to do it for rollerbladers, in-line skaters, anybody, any contraption. It needs to happen.

 — Michael Prue, Ontario Legislature House Debate, 4 Nov 2004

So, Michael, I don’t see you wearing a helmet in that picture on your website when you’re out on the street. Don’t you know the number of pedestrian head injuries?

Don’t make me wear that eggbox …

Date: Tue, 09 Nov 2004 12:06:02 -0500
To: Lorenzo Berardinetti MPP < at />,
John Milloy MPP < at />,
Harinder Takhar MPP < at />
Subject: Bill 129, Highway Traffic Amendment Act, 2004

I am an experienced cyclist. I am strongly opposed to compulsory bicycle helmet legislation. Its discussion is a waste of legislature time, and its implementation would be a waste of police time.

Bicycle helmets do little to reduce injuries. Better preventative measures include cyclist awareness training for drivers, and proper assertive cycling skills for bicycle riders.

It is unfair to single out the users of “muscular powered vehicles”. Pedestrians and motorists also suffer head injuries in collisions, and so should be compelled to wear helmets too.

Toronto has a culture of utility cycling. We do not ride bikes for sport or recreation, but as an integrated part of urban mobility.

It is no coincidence that the countries with the highest levels of cycling are also those with the lowest levels of helmet use. Please do not harm the health of Ontario by providing barriers to cycling.

I urge you strongly to drop support for this bill. It does nothing for the cyclists in Ontario.

Please acknowledge receipt of this e-mail.

Yours sincerely,
Stewart C. Russell

Why does John Milloy hate cyclists?

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:

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:

  1. automatic fault on the motor vehicle driver until proven otherwise, as in some European countries.
  2. wide right lanes (not bike lanes) required on all new urban roads.