Regina city council decides on education instead of mandatory helmet bylaw
Proposed helmet bylaw defeated 8-3 at Wednesday council meeting
Cyclists in Regina will not be required to wear helmets when riding within city limits, after a proposed mandatory helmet bylaw was defeated in a 8-3 vote at Wednesday's city council meeting.
The proposed bylaw would have allowed police to issue a fine of $29 — roughly the cost of a helmet — to riders not wearing helmets.
"I do not want to enforce something and then I do not, for sure, want a $100,000 [per year] police officer running down a $29 ticket," said Coun. Jerry Flegel during his closing comments leading up to the vote. (Flegel does not wear a helmet when he rides his bicycle.)
Council did vote in favour of an education program for cyclists and motorists, as well as a report on the program to be filed later. It's aimed at educating people about bike lanes, sharing the road and safe passing distance between motorists and cyclists.
The other aspect would be educating people on the benefits of wearing a helmet and additional protective equipment. The cost of the program is $65,000, and it will roll out at a later date to be determined.
Some councillors pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic in their comments on the proposed bylaw, such as Coun. Jason Mancinelli, who said it had no hope being enforced under the current circumstances.
"I just don't think right now is the time to enforce this," said Coun. Lori Bresciani.
"We are in a pandemic. We are in a time where we actually want people to get out and cycle, get exercise — that kind of thing."
Coun. Bob Hawkins supported the bylaw, saying helmets protect the rider. Making helmets mandatory would reduce the risk of death or serious injuries, he said.
"We have seatbelt bylaws. We have bylaws to protect workers. We require motorcyclists to wear helmets. This is just part of that," Hawkins said earlier in the day.
Coun. Sharron Bryce and Mayor Michael Fougere voted in favour of the bylaw, along with Hawkins.
Brandon Wright of Bike Regina supports the use of helmets, but said making it compulsory will have negative effects.
"A little bit of EPS foam strapped to the head, this is going to protect you in in an accident to some degree," Wright said.
"But what ... these mandatory helmet bylaws do where introduced is, it reduces the numbers of cyclists."
With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition