REGINA -- Regina city council is considering enhancements to cycling safety through lane distances and using protective gear like a helmet when on a bike.

For protective gear, city council considered two options:

  • A bylaw that requires cyclists of all ages to wear a helmet, a bell or horn, front and rear red lights and reflective clothing.
  • Undertake a communication campaign to educate residents on the benefits of wearing helmets and additional safety equipment at an estimated cost between $15,000 and $25,000.

Councillor Bob Hawkins wants helmets to be mandatory and made his point clear during Wednesday morning’s Community and Protective Services Committee Meeting.

“I’m very passionate about the safety of our children, our cyclists in our city. I see children and adults riding without helmets and I know that if there’s an accident their lives are going to be changed forever, there’s going to be a tremendous burden on the medical system, their friends and families are going to be upset by this so I think we can take a simple safety measure here and prevent endless grief. Helmets are something that is being adopted universally and it should be adopted here as well," said Councillor Hawkins.

Hawkins sees the mandatory helmet bylaw as another tool that will educate others to wear a helmet.

“I expect there to be virtually no fines, I expect there to be enforcement and the frontline for enforcement will be using this bylaw to educate anyone to wear a helmet.”

Councillor Jerry Flegel said he would like to have more discussion about mandatory helmets and he would like to see more members of the public present.

“My preference is to have the bylaw read on the April proceedings only so that we are not forcing the issue and we’re giving the public an opportunity to have a say or a second say. Is there no interest in the bike helmet issue or is it because its 9AM in the morning and nobody wants to be out here? There’s not one person here who wants to talk about bike helmets, I have a problem with that.” said Councillor Flegel.

Councillor Jason Mancinelli leaned towards the option of educating the public about bike safety and questioned whether or not mandatory can be enforced adequately.

“I am in agreement with what a lot of Councillor Hawkins has to say. I think I’d like to support option two because it’s the education and the safety we want. To have an arbitrary law that’s unenforceable and use it as a one on one as a point of education isn’t going to bring safety to our city any quicker. I think educating people in bike safety reaches the end means that we want and reaches broad swaths of people instead of a one on one police interaction,” said Councillor Mancinelli.

After debate, the helmet bylaw was carried. City administration will draft a bylaw which will require cyclists of all ages to wear a helmet and the enforcement measure will be a fine of $29 dollars. Hawkins says the real enforcement measure will be the educative value of the bylaw.

Councillor Andrew Stevens says he was pleased with the discussions but still has some concerns about the helmet bylaw and would much have infrastructure put in place for cyclists.

“I think we’re finally, yet slowly getting to the right spot where we need to be which is actually recognizing that people are cycling year round in this city. I have been cycling in the winter, summer, fall, spring for quite awhile. I think we need to recognize safety, promotion, and communications. I just worry that this (helmet) law will start to target certain people who can’t afford helmets and it doesn’t work effectively. When I think about safety, I don’t start with the head and the helmet I start with lets create a space where we are free to cycle safely. We want dedicated bike lanes,” Councillor Stevens said.