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News

BC questions helmet law

The focus of the cycling world is turning on Vancouver in the run-up to Velo City (the international cycling conference), which is being held in the city from June 26 to 29 2012. And that's starting to cause some unease in British Columbia (BC) as the province is being viewed as inherently anti-cycling by many because of its helmet law.

There's always been opposition to the law among many cyclists in BC, but now the hitherto unmoved political establishment is beginning to think again. Ted Dixon, Policy Chair for the ruling BC Liberal Party, has posted on the Internet that the law should be scrapped. He writes:

"It's time for a fresh approach towards bicycle helmet laws in BC. Let's give families and citizens the choice and responsibility to decide whether or not to put a helmet on for a bike journey. Let's repeal the bike helmet law under the Motor Vehicle Act for at least 5 years, monitor the effects while offering education about the pros and cons of bike helmet use. At the same time review the existing science critically from an unbiased view, applying the same standard that any new prescription drug application would receive. Unintended consequences of such a law must be considered in the review. In particular, we need to assess the impact that a helmet requirement would have on youth fitness, automobile use and if it discriminates against lower income families."

He continues, "The science behind laws forcing other-wise law-abiding biking citizens to wear a helmet is incomplete and equivocal at best . As Canadian-Dane Mikael Colville-Andersen has so articulately pointed out (you can find him on YouTube) if the prescription for every citizen to wear a bike a helmet was subject to the same degree of scientific review as a new drug application, it would never have been approved. For an example of the conflicting science, see INTENDED AND UNINTENDED EFFECTS OF YOUTH BICYCLE HELMET LAWS Christopher S. Carpenter & Mark F. Stehr NBER Working Paper 15658 Jan 2010. Google cyclehelmets org for more. So, why do we have the law? Maybe it has something to do with it being passed by the NDP which had a vested interest in building up the nanny state and all the jobs & tax revenue that come with it? It certainly wasn't based on a thorough review of the pros & cons."

Dixon says that repealing the law is likely to have a net positive impact on society.

Media interest in BC's law has heightened in recent weeks and scepticism about the law seems to be growing. At Velo City there will be a special session devoted to cycle helmets.

Thu 19 Apr 2012

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