Should bike helmets be mandatory across Canada?

Thomas Bink
Sarah Grant adjusts her helmet in Salt Lake City, May 10, 2006. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann

If you live outside of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, you don't have to wear a helmet if you ride a bike.

That's something the Canadian Paediatric Society wants to change.

According to the Canadian Automobile Association, about 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured in Canada each year. Only 18% of cyclists killed in traffic crashes are under the age of 16. The others are adults who reserve the right to not wear a helmet.

“There are always people that will say that it’s an adult’s right to choose whether or not they want to use a helmet but my perspective . . . is that bike helmets have been shown to reduce injury risk in all age groups,” said Brent Hagel, co-author of the CPS paper urging all provinces and territories to adopt mandatory helmet laws. “I think it’s clear that helmet legislation for all age groups would be positive for all jurisdictions in Canada.”

[ Related: Helmet laws still a tough sell despite support from medical community ]

Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario require children wear helmets when they cycle, but adults are exempt from the law. In other provinces, there are no requirements at all.

In many ways, this debate is similar to seatbelt legislation implemented across Canada in the 1980s. The statistics made it clear that seatbelts prevented serious injuries in car crashes, and following seatbelt legislation, buckling up quickly became a habit for Canadians entering a car.

The same can be done for bike helmets - if mandatory, it becomes a potentially life-saving habit.

So we ask you: Should bike helmets be mandatory in Canada?

Have your say in the comments area below.