Helmets No Longer Law for Those Over 16

Robert Thomas

Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle for anyone over the age of 16 will not be required after a revote on the provision contained in the new Traffic Bylaw.

The revote was called for Councillor Brian Swanson, who stridently opposed requiring anyone wearing bicycle helmets at all.

“We are saying to make a whole bunch of people illegal unless they choose to wear a helmet,” Coun Swanson said, adding “I see all kinds of kids riding around without a helmet, we are going to make a law the police are not going to enforce.”

Councillor Chris Warren said he supported mandatory helmets for bicyclists under 18.

“As part of the Transportation Services Advisory Committee, there has been lots of discussion around the principles of wearing helmets,” Coun Warren stated, adding later in the discussion “the general discussion has been very supportive of this.”

He pointed out that in feedback from an on-line poll, letters and emails 77 percent of respondents supported all bicyclists under 18 wearing helmets.

“We want to protect our most valuable resource; our children,” Coun Warren stated.
In a 5 – 2 vote, Council decided to rescind the requirement for children 16 to 18 years old being required to wear a helmet. Coun Warren and Mayor Frasier Tolmie opposed the amendment.

Coun Swanson then attempted a second amendment to remove the bicycle helmet requirements for all children.

“This is something I believe is a provincial and family mandate,” he stated, adding what Council was doing was creating a law the police would never enforce.

Swanson asked if the police were going to be catching young children and taking the time to fine them or find out who their parents were to go speak to them about helmets?

Councillor Crystal Froese felt it was within Council’s mandate to require children to wear bicycle helmets. As a former resident of BC she said it was natural and everyone there followed the law and wore one.

“Bicycle helmets do protect our smallest residents,” Coun Froese stated.

The amendment to remove helmets for children under 16 was defeated 5 – 2. Councillor Dawn Luhning and Swanson supported the amendment.

Saskatchewan and Quebec are the only provinces which do not have any bicycle helmet safety laws.