We are the 2%

The Honorable Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety

January 4, 2012

Dear Mrs. Bond,

RE: We are the 2%

I am writing to you to ask you to repeal the Mandatory Helmet Law in British Columbia.

98% of the countries [1] on the planet have the freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet. By joining the 98%, British Columbia will become healthier, happier, and more productive.

In Canada, British Columbia is only one of 4 provinces that mandate helmet laws. Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and all the prairie provinces don’t have an all age mandatory helmet law. [7]

In all of the provinces that have implemented all age mandatory helmet laws, the results were disappointing. Toronto University Professor Dr Mary Chipman published a research paper in March 2002 through the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which concluded: “The data from Australia and now Nova Scotia suggest that legislation increases helmet use but also reduces the numbers of cyclists.”

Another study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed a 62% reduction in cyclist numbers in Halifax the year after helmet law enactment, with more cyclist injuries recorded than before the law and a nominal reduction in head injuries (8 less head injuries in 1999) [2].

98% of the countries on earth have no such helmet law. In London, with no helmet mandation, their bikeshare is thriving with nobody seriously injured during the first 4.5 million trips [3]. This stat supports what bicyclists have said all along: Cycling is a very safe activity.

All-age bicycle helmet laws are pretty much non-existant in all of Europe and Africa, and most of Asia [6]. Denmark has seen cycling decline over the past decades. Yet, in 2008, only 54 cyclist fatalities were recorded, even with no helmet law [5]. This number seems high, until compared to other statistics: 9 pedestrians were killed in the first 6 months of 2011 in the City of Vancouver alone; and in 2009, motor vehicle collisions killed 2209 Canadians [4].

The evidence is most clear in Copenhagen, where only 1 road death and 133 injuries occured in 2009 [8]. This is in a country where the majority of the people bike to their destanations, and where almost all of the adults don’t wear a helmet.

Mexico most recently joined the 98% by repealing its mandatory helmet laws in 2010.

With Australia the only other major country in the world that mandates bicycle helmet laws, it doesn’t make sense for British Columbia to continue to mandate helmets for bicyclists. Can you please tell me why you and your government have decided to single out cycling as a dangerous activity, and why British Columbia cannot join the other 98% of the planet that have no helmet mandation.

Kyle Zheng