Critique of Proposed Mandatory Helmet Law

By Roger Foisy on August 16th, 2012

Critics of the proposed mandatory helmet law in Ontario suggest that there may be negative repercussions if the government chooses to adopt it. A report from the Office of Ontario’s Chief Coroner which made recommendations on how to reduce the injuries and fatalities of cyclists has prompted debate as to the benefits and concerns of a mandatory helmet law for cyclists of all ages.

While the benefits of wearing a helmet are undeniable there are opponents to such a proposal as it may have an impact of deterring people from cycling, decrease the use of bike-share programs, and also act as a band-aid solution in delaying safety measures such as designated cycling lanes. Such a law may also decrease ‘utility cycling’, such as short trips to the corner store or park.

With a lack of evidence as to the effectiveness and results of mandatory helmet laws the results are uncertain. While the number of serious head injuries in Canada has dropped from 907 in 2001-2002 to 665 in 2009-2010 it is not definitive as to the role that helmet-wearing has played as other safety measures may have also had an impact, such as an increase in bike lanes and safety campaigns.

Currently, for those in Ontario ages 18 and over wearing a helmet is still optional, but of course, highly recommended.

The Ontario Trial Lawyer Association (OTLA), of which Roger R. Foisy is a member, initiated the Bike Helmets on Kids Community Partnership campaign in 2002, which focuses on distributing helmets to children as well as providing education and awareness about helmet use.

To read the full Globe and Mail article please click here.
For more information on the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association please click here.
To read the blog post about the recommendations of the Cycling Death Review by the Office of the Chief Coroner please click here.

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