Should bike helmets be mandatory in Ontario? The answer is yes. In a province where cycling has been increasing, it’s important to take safety precautions such as wearing a helmet. According to the statistics from the Toronto Police Service, there were 18 fatalities and 2,343 injuries caused by collisions with vehicles in 2016. Of these collisions, only 4% of cyclists wore helmets.
A cyclist without a helmet was 7 times more likely to sustain injury or death than those who were wearing one. Head injuries are the most common injury sustained because they are so easily missed when checking for o
Is the answer yes?
The answer is yes! In fact, all cyclists, except for professional cyclists, are required to wear helmets in Ontario. Ontario cyclists who receive medical attention within an hour of a collision with a vehicle are treated and are issued an auto-insurance discount of up to $1,000 per victim, per year. However, the province’s bike helmet policy is somewhat convoluted.
There are two categories of cyclists, amateur and professional. Amateur cyclists don’t have to wear helmets; they’re exempt from the bike helmet legislation, but must use a bell. Professional cyclists can get a medical attention only by going to an urgent care centre or a hospital emergency room. They must bring their bike, as it can be used as evidence of whether or not they were wearing a helmet.
The importance of wearing a helmet
Riding a bike is generally a safe activity, and helmet use is even more important. In addition to wearing a helmet, being cautious is the only way to truly avoid getting into a bike accident. If you’re riding in the summer or on a road with hills, make sure you wear proper bike clothing, like a vest with reflective tape, as well as reflective strips on your bike.
You don’t have to be hit by a car to suffer a head injury. Head injuries occur when you get a blow to the head, and the symptoms can vary depending on the severity. Some people experience mild head injury, or headache. Others may experience a severe head injury and/or lose consciousness.
Who is required to wear a helmet?
Every rider of a bicycle or motorcycle under 16 must wear a helmet under the Highway Traffic Act and the Ontario Driver’s Handbook. Parents or guardians can apply for a child under 16 to ride without a helmet if they obtain written consent from the local government. It is up to parents or guardians to decide if a helmet is necessary.
Why must I wear a helmet?
A smart bike helmet provides protection in two ways. First, it protects the brain against impact forces from a crash. It can reduce the severity of injuries caused by these forces by up to 83%. Second, it protects the brain from heat and from chemicals that can cause brain injury.
An adequate helmet will reduce your risk of injury by 50% to 80%. A helmet has a protective outer shell and an inner layer of padding.
How do we make bike helmets mandatory in Ontario?
Rates of helmet wearing vary widely across Ontario. According to Transport Canada, 15% of all cyclists wore a helmet in 2016. In comparison, the number of cyclists wearing helmets in Alberta is 73% and in New Brunswick it’s 58%.
Based on these numbers, I expect that more than a million Ontario cyclists were not wearing a helmet on a daily basis. This would mean that approximately 32,000 serious injuries and nine deaths each year could be prevented.
Many studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of helmet legislation and the evidence is mixed. The 2011 Ciclovia in New York City revealed that the use of helmets significantly increased in areas where they were mandatory and there was a decline in helmet wearing in areas where they weren’t.
I hope that the information and suggestions contained in this blog post is helpful to cyclists. While the idea of bike helmets is controversial, there is no evidence that they are not effective in preventing head trauma. Your own personal safety should be paramount to you.