Doctors to call for helmet use law

Doctors in Montreal are calling for a law that would make helmet use mandatory for cyclists under the age of 18.

35 per cent of cyclists under 18 don't wear a helmet

Pediatricians are gathering at Ste-Justine Children's Hospital Wednesday morning to ask the Quebec government to make helmets mandatory for cyclists under the age of 18.

The head of cycling advocacy group Vélo Québec told the CBC the move would discourage people from cycling.

Suzanne Lareau said the city should focus instead on creating more bike paths and educating drivers and cyclists on how to coexist in the city. "If we only focus on mandatory helmet use, we will miss the goal of increasing safety for cyclists," said Lareau.

Dr. Tarek Razek, director of trauma services at Montreal General Hospital, agreed that creating safer spaces for cyclists around the city would have a greater impact than any other measure, including helmet use. But he said several studies have shown that helmet laws do not reduce ridership. "Most importantly, injury and death rates were dramatically reduced when legislation was introduced," said Dr. Razek.

Going farther in Ontario

In Ontario, all cyclists under the age of 18 face $60 fines if they fail to wear a helmet.

Earlier his week, a new report from Ontario's chief coroner sugested going even further. The chief coroner recommended making it mandatory for people of all ages to wear a helmet while biking.

The report said every single one of the cycling deaths in Ontario between 2006 and 2010 was preventable.

Ontario's Transportation Minister, Bob Chiarelli, said the province is updating its cycling policy and agrees with the coroner's principles.