Nova Scotia

Helmetless cyclist says Halifax police made him feel like a criminal

A Halifax cyclist who was pulled over by two police cars and hit with more than $700 in fines says the incident made him feel like a criminal for riding a bike.

Marc Almon admits he was breaking a rule, but thinks helmet law 'is not normal'

Marc Almon holds the tickets he was issued with over the cycling incident. (CBC)

A Halifax cyclist who was pulled over by two police cars and hit with more than $700 in fines says the incident made him feel like a criminal for riding a bike.

Marc Almon admits he wasn't wearing a helmet when police spotted him riding down Gottingen Street on Thursday. 

"It was a short jaunt," he said. "I was approaching an intersection when I heard the cops pulling up behind me and barking at me."

He said it was an awkward place to stop. "And frankly I was just annoyed. It was like, 'Oh God — this again?'"

'Frisked for weapons'

He went through the intersection and found two police cars, lights flashing, now trying to stop him. He rode onto the sidewalk and stopped.

"They stopped me and frisked me for weapons and handed me these four tickets," he said Friday.

He got tickets for:

  • Failing to obey a police officer.
  • Riding a bicycle without a helmet.
  • Failing to ride bicycle on right side of roadway.
  • Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk.

Nova Scotia's cycling laws say cyclists have the "same rights and responsibilities as motorists." Cyclists are to ride on the right side of the road with the flow of traffic, using "as much of the lane as required to be safe from roadside hazards."

Cyclists in Nova Scotia must wear a helmet that complies with regulations.

He said the police were just doing their jobs by ticketing him for not wearing a helmet, but thinks the helmet law itself is wrong. He said it can discourage poor people from cycling, especially if they don't and get a $150 ticket.

Some cyclists think the helmet law discourages people from riding bikes. (Julie Jacobson/Associated Press)

"I'm going to try and fight it. I think this is wrong what happened here," he said.

He expects to have to pay the helmet ticket, but perhaps not the other charges.

Helmet law 'not the right approach'

He thinks the helmet law has held Halifax back. Ride-sharing programs are hard to organize if everyone had to bring a helmet or have one provided, he said. "This law is not normal. Most places on earth don't have this law."

He thinks it's good to wear a helmet, but thinks adults should be able to decide for themselves.

"I understand the intent behind this law, and that is to try and save lives and to make people safer, but making bicyclists feel like they're criminals for riding their bikes, I think that's not the right approach."

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