16 July 2009

Kissing Toronto's Bicycle Culture Goodbye

monkey finger
Well, that was that, perhaps. Toronto's blossoming bicycle culture is at risk of being pedalled back into the stone ages because a city councillor is proposing mandatory bicycle helmet laws for all ages AND bicycle licencing/registration.

Michael Walker is the name of the councillor and he, like many car-centric, uninformed politicians before him, is doing his bit for promoting cars and killing off the growth of a carbon neutral, life-extending transport form - bicycles.

His proposal was seconded by another councillor, Suzan Hall.

Walker doesn't seem to be aware that bicycle helmets are designed for protecting a head from non-life threatening injuries in solo accidents under 20 km/h. He seems to think they are some kind of wonder drug that can protect heads from collisions with cars, trucks and rogue meteors. He doesn't seem to realise that the societal and health benefits of a cycling population far outweigh the benefit of helmets.

Here's the pdf of his motion. His shocking disregard for pedestrian safety is alarming. I cannot see any reference to helmets for pedestrians in the motion.

As it's been seen all over the world, mandatory helmet laws kill off cycling. 20-40% fewer cyclists as a result. And fewer cyclists means an increase in health care costs, pollution and the continuation of a car-centric society. Bullying people who choose a healthy transport option serves no good purpose.

Here you can see the unfortunate results of Canadian helmet laws so far. Not much for Toronto to look forward to.

Here's a radio interview about the proposal from CBC:
http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/8752/toronto/ondemand/audio/jul02bh_TOR.wma. Hilariously, in the URL there is the word/name ONDEMAND. In Danish "onde mand" means "evil man".

I'll never understand why politicians like him, or like the Danish Socialist Peoples' Party propose laws without considering ALL of the science. Thorough political groundwork is a rarity, it seems. This man is a poster child for The Culture of Fear Inc. Actually, he's probably a shareholder.

Regarding his proposal for bicycle licencing, Copenhagenize.com has written about this folly before. Right here.

Toronto... it's been lovely watching your bicycle culture grow. You have been a progressive city in many areas.

Shame it may all have been in vain.

Via: Biking Toronto, thanks to Joel.