Bike Helmet Debate Heats Up

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 01, 2012

A September 29 article in the New York Times explores the controversy over bicycle helmets in the context of bike share programs and other attempts to get more people riding bikes.

In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God's truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.

But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare - exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.

On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And - Catch-22 - a result is fewer ordinary cyclists on the road, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.

The article compares bike share programs in Melbourne, Australia and Dublin, Ireland. The former city is flat and temperate with wide streets but has a mandatory helmet law, and cycling use is low; whereas the latter is cold and wet with narrow cobble-stoned streets but no helmet law, and the system has 5,000 rides a day.

Dublin Bike share station (RTH file photo)
Dublin Bike share station (RTH file photo)

People are a lot less willing to participate in a bike share if they have to wear a helmet - particularly a shared helmet worn by other people.

Evidence from bike share programs in Montreal, Washingon and Minneapolis finds that while helmet use among people using these programs is lower than cyclists in those cities using their own bikes, the accident rates are also "really low" and participants report getting more exercise than before the shares were available.

Toronto Bixi bike share station (RTH file photo)
Toronto Bixi bike share station (RTH file photo)

Growth in Cycling

The most bicycle-friendly cities, like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, go out of their way to avoid even mentioning bike helmets. Instead, they focus their regulatory efforts on maximizing the number of cyclists.

Essential to that goal is a continuous network of dedicated bicycle lanes so that people feel safe taking a bicycle instead of an automobile.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Coroner's Report on Cycling strongly recommended a provincewide "complete streets" policy that provides for the safety of all street users - pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users and motorists - instead of optimizing for motorists.

The study also explored the bike helmet controversy, treading a careful line between the evidence that a cyclist has a better chance of surviving a crash with a helmet with the evidence that a cyclist has a lower risk of crashing in the first place on a more mature, well-used bicycle network.

A fact sheet by the European Cyclists' Federation concludes that higher rates of bicycle use result in lower numbers of casualties - for the simple reason that cycling is safer when more people do it. The effect is so profound that significant increases in the number of cyclists can actually result in an absolute reduction in the number of injuries.

Between 1980 and 2005, the Netherlands experienced a 45% increase in cycling coupled with a 58% decrease in the number of cycling fatalities. Similarly, London has experienced a 90% increase in cycling since 1990 coupled wiht a 33% drop in casualties from 1994 to 1998.

Similarly, since 2000, cycling has quadrupled in New York City while the risk of injury has fallen by three quarters.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2012 at 11:55:33

One day we will have nice things. Hopefully before I lose my ambulatory powers.

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By randomguy (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2012 at 12:05:41

I think a lot of the issue with bike helmets is that people far overestimate the probability of accidents occurring where a helmet would make a big difference. Frankly getting everyone to wear a helmet while in a car would probably make more of a difference, but nobody's going to do that.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted October 01, 2012 at 12:08:10

Helmets make sense when you are racing, because of your speed, or mountain biking, because you really can fall pretty easily and hit your head a rock or tree. However, when I bike in the city, the only way I can think of that I would fall off my bike is if someone hit me with their car, in which case a bike helmet provides only a marginal increase in protection - it won't stop me from breaking my neck, ribs, or extremities, and it won't stop me from getting bad road-rash or being crushed by the vehicle. Mind you, the psychological effects of even a mild blow to the head can have a much more profound effect on you than a broken arm.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 01, 2012 at 13:16:40

Before we waste time thinking about helmets we need to start giving a crap about the real danger to cyclists: terrible road design.

How about putting a bike lane on a bridge that merges into a highway off ramp on your right with 4 lanes of high speed traffic on your left?

Don't worry, we already have that covered thanks to the firecracker road design duo of the province of ontario with special guest the city of hamilton.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 20:45:49 in reply to Comment 81346

I'm in Portland right would just die at the bike infrastructure...and probably never go back home.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted October 03, 2012 at 06:45:18 in reply to Comment 81383

Hamilton is still in the early stages of becoming "The Place Where Young People Go To Retire."

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 03, 2012 at 10:33:07 in reply to Comment 81385

doing some reading while here....the economy has really been hit, like most of the country, yet young people keep flocking. Researchers say they are lured by the quality of life. Lack of jobs is why Portland has the highest number of start-ups and entrepreneurs per capita than any city in America. People want to be here and will take less money to do so. I met a young guy in a trendy hood from Buffalo. Got chatting. He said he came here for the 'opportunity' and to 'ride my bike all year'. I asked about job market (he was trying to sign people up to vote on the street), he said it's not good, but nor was Buffalo's. Said he likes what's starting to happen in Buffalos urban core, but (every Hamiltonian needs to pay attention to this next part) he was tired of waiting around for the city to get it's act together and make urban revitalization a priority! Wow. Where have we heard those warnings?

He took great pains to praise Buffalo, but still said I'm only young once and want to have a good quality of life.

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2012 at 14:05:08 in reply to Comment 81346

But of course hot buying/wearing a helmet is instantly achievable, requires no procedural odysseys and costs the government nothing.

Rehabilitating the city's/region's/province's road/bridge infrastructure, on the other hand, takes long-term planning, a battery of surveys and schematics, no small amount of political prestidigitation and of course it comes at a sizable cost.

On balance, you can save a lot of time, energy and prime childbearing years by moving to a more enlightened and less conflicted city/region.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:06:03 in reply to Comment 81348

Wait a minute - are you saying "move to brampton"?

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 11:33:38 in reply to Comment 81362

Tongue-in-cheek. But you have to admire the region's initiative:

"Peel Region hopes so and has launched an ambitious program to increase the number of daily bike trips by 46,000 rides in five years. (In 2006, there were 2.3 million total daily trips made by Peel residents. Five per cent, or 115,000, of those trips were either cycling or walking trips, the rest were made using vehicles.).... Over the next 20 years, the region plans to build 480 kilometres of bike paths and lanes in addition to the 600 to 700 kilometres planned by the City of Mississauga."

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 03, 2012 at 12:30:33 in reply to Comment 81374

We have the same 20 year "dreams" on paper but constantly refuse to implement any measures necessary to achieve them.

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By Glorieta (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2012 at 15:54:35

Almost two dozen vehicles in the local Car Share program... and the way things are going, probably as many years before we see a Bixi pilot in Hamilton.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:21:44 in reply to Comment 81350

I can only dream what life would be like if the following could have happened:

  1. A portion of US Steel's 'penalty' from their agreement with the feds went towards a Bixi program.

  2. Then the councillors in the the downtown area (Wards 1, 2 & 3) put a good portion of their area rating slush fund to the Bixi program.

  3. Finally BIA's, MAC University/Studend Union paid a reasonable annual stipend to have a station in their area.

  4. Some advertising from some corporate sector. In Toronto it's Desjardin & Telus, so maybe here FirstOntario & Bell.

  5. Partnership with New Hope Bike Coop, or similar organization for maintenance and repair.

Am I dreaming or would that be funding and at least some operational work then done for 100 bikes?

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 04, 2013 at 06:30:38 in reply to Comment 81365

It might very well supply the required funding but you are definitely, 100% dreaming.

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted October 01, 2012 at 20:54:21

I get the part about forcing people to wear helmets being problematic. Especially for bikeshares, who in the world would want to wear a used helmet. But promoting helmets creates a sense of danger? How? The bike rider sees a picture of a bike commissioner wearing a helmet and suddenly they stop riding? Where's the proof? The bike rider in Toronto or Melbourne doesn't cease riding because people are pushing helmets, I suspect, but because it's miserable to bike in these cities. All it looks like to me is that they've correlated helmet promotion with bike riding. What that shows to me is that cities with crappy infrastructure where bicyclists are getting hurt frequently are looking for the cheapest way out of their liability. Show me the cause between the promotion and the bicycle rates.

In Europe they don't promote helmets because they don't need to, the infrastructure is so good. Here we have real risks and I seriously doubt that if you get hit by a car your helmet will not be a huge aid to you. Helmet use is a token thing, for sure, and maybe once we get good biking infrastructure we could do without it, though even then I'm sceptical.

And finally as to risk, we secure ourselves against hundreds of infinitesmal risks. You probably don't need to refrigerate your eggs, get vaccinated for polio etc. Where the only downside of taking a precaution is that your hair gets rustled then I think it's a bad argument.

Long way of saying non sequitur.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:19:31 in reply to Comment 81354

I seriously doubt that if you get hit by a car your helmet will not be a huge aid to you

You can "seriously doubt" all you want, but the helmet deign standards themselves specifically state the limitations of helmets. This includes the fact that they are simply not designed to protect you in the case of an interaction with another vehicle.

Show me the cause between the promotion and the bicycle rates.

So your argument is allowed to be based on your own "serious doubt" but the other side needs to 'show you the proof'?

Here's some collected proof for you from a society who is suffering under helmet laws as we speak:

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 04, 2013 at 06:39:11 in reply to Comment 81364

Any energy absorbing material between your head and a hard object during an impact is a good thing and is bound to help you. Totally irregardless of the design of said energy absorbing material.

If bicycle helmets are so ineffective then we should be lobbying for better helmets not to repeal laws or avoid laws that mandate their use.

Long long time ago in place not far away the government introduced a law that would make seatbelts in vehicles mandatory. One of the big reasons that was given for not wearing them was that their use was going to wrinkle cloths. Wrinkled clothes to messed hair, we have learnt nothing. Amazing.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 09:19:27 in reply to Comment 81354

The problem with your argument is that the best way to increase bike safety is more bikes on the road. ANYTHING that gets in the way of that decreases safety.

In today's vain world, mussed hair is plenty of reason for people not to choose their bike. Each time that happens you reduce the safety of all cyclists on the road by reducing the number of cyclists.

If it is in fact a token, as you acknowledge above, then why enforce a safety token when it detracts from the total number of cyclists?

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:30:19 in reply to Comment 81360

good comments both, but two points:

1. yes helmets won't protect being hit by a car. But they would protect falling off bike and hitting head on pavement. I'm basing that on a combination of common sense and anecdotal evidence.

2. yes if they're making the claim that helmet 'promotion' causes rates of cycling to decrease they need to show the proof. It seems to me they're making a correlation/ causation error.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:38:00 in reply to Comment 81367

The best example is New Zealand, where the effect of mandatory helmet laws on cycling and injuries has been extensively studied. The research seems to show that mandatory helmet laws decreased cycling by although the injuries decreased by 19% after the law, cycling also decreased by 22%, which means the risk for each cyclist actually increased slightly.

A New Zealand medical Journal study

"finds the helmet law has failed in aspects of promoting cycling, safety, health, accident compensation, environmental issues and civil liberties."

Clarke, Colin (2012). "Evaluation of New Zealand’s bicycle helmet law". New Zealand Medical Journal 125 (1349).

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By j (registered) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:33:12 in reply to Comment 81367

sorry, one other thing: I agree with the website you linked that helmet laws are a bad idea. It seems to me they've weakly associated promotion with prohibition.

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By OreoTurtle (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:10:11

How difficult would it be to give bike share members a special new helmet upon registration? It would promote bike share and safety. Plus if they include the helmet with the membership registration, they could make it mandatory.

In this city too many cyclists do not wear helmets, and yes most people feel their only concerns would be IF they got hit by a car. I laugh at this if because this is a common occurrence in this city that motorists hit cyclists. It happened a few months ago at the corner of Barton & John and the cyclist was not wearing a helmet and had to go to the hospital for severe head injuries and was on the brink of death.

I have always felt that cyclists should wear helmets, especially in this city. I have many friends that choose to ride their bikes and I'm pretty sure 99% of them do wear their helmets.

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By MikeyJ (registered) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 11:38:17 in reply to Comment 81363

I feel deep in my heart that pedestrians should also wear helmets, automobile drivers neck braces, and motorcyclists should be wrapped in bubble wrap.

It happened just today where a car hit a motorcycle that hit a pedestrian. After extensively researching this accident in my gut region, I'm confident the measures above would have saved them, but they all died.

I'm certain this wont be prohibitive to these activities, because about 150% of my friends love bubble wrap.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:28:14 in reply to Comment 81363

I am so tired of people who advocate for mandatory helmets because they "feel" like it is "safer".

Take 10 minutes and read the helmet standards. Understand the limitations of helmets.

We could actually save lives if we educated the entire population on defensive cycling techniques from a young age, and taught drivers how to behave near cyclists as part of the licensing system.

Instead we are going to waste millions of dollars in police costs to enforce helmet laws which will save almost no lives.

Helmets are only marginally effective. Please stop holding them up on a pedestal. It is actually dangerous to blindly promote helmets without accompanying the promotion with the information about what they can actually do for you.

I am not against helmets. I wear one. But I understand the limitations and that makes me safer than any mandatory helmet law ever will.

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 15:26:41 in reply to Comment 81366

wait a second. You've put words now into both my and Oreoturtle's mouth - neither of us advocated for mandatory helmets. Both of us only said they work, and Kevlahan's article showed they do, while they also have a bad downside. Then another fellow chimed in and suggested they are unnecessary like wearing bubble wrap all the time. Be careful that you don't twist this into arguing against a good thing just because it has bad consequences - attack the consequences absolutely but you can also have the good thing.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 03, 2012 at 12:39:40 in reply to Comment 81382

You are arguing for promotion of helmets. Oreo wants more people to wear helmets. This MUST be accompanied with correct information about exactly what they are designed to save you from: minor head injuries at low speeds, and abrasion injuries. My main point is that any money, time or effort spent on helmet promotion (or god forbid mandating them) is absolutely wasted if we put this before proper education and road design measures.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 10:42:30

When I ride my bike I always wear my helmet. When in Toronto on a Bixi, I never wear a helmet.

I did wear a helmet the first few times on a Bixi, but carrying the helmet to Toronto then carting it around when not on the bike, and carrying back to Hamilton was a pain.

So I rationalized that I wasn't travelling very fast (a Bixi is only 3 gears) and only travelling for a short distance (less than 3km), therefore no helmet.

Right or wrong, that's what I do.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 12:18:07 in reply to Comment 81370

Grenoble's MetroVelo program is geared more towards long-term rentals. In the Long-term rental (at least a month) the user keeps the bike themselves (rather than always returning it to the racks as in Paris). The full yearly rate is 105 euros, which includes regular maintenance (they advise every two months) and repair.

This is different from most other municipal bike rental schemes which are designed for short-term users who just pick up a bike from a rack when they need one.

Maybe this is the right sort of scheme for a mid-size city like Hamilton: focus on longer term rentals.

MetroVelo also rents a number of accessories: baby carriers, trailers, tandems, and helmets. A rental helmet is included in the standard longer-term rental deal.

However, I can't see anywhere on the site that even encourages the use of helmets. They are just included as an accessory for those who want them.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2012-10-02 12:20:34

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By Jay Robb (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 14:31:57

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted October 02, 2012 at 23:43:55

I love the idea of a bixi like project in Hamilton. I have some doubts as to the viability of such a plan but even if the city needed to subsidize it to a limited extent it would still be a worthwhile thing. In order for it to work the city needs to have some sort of connected comprehensive bike lanes. The existing hodge-podge of lanes we have now is almost worse then nothing at all. For the minute investment bike lanes require there is simply no reason for this city to be in the position it is. Main St. West was completely rebuilt by the university not long ago and there is no bike lane anywhere to be seen. The number of students who ride bikes to Mac at least occasionally is huge and yet the powers that be did not bother putting in bike lanes.

If the bikes were a little lighter and more rideable that could not hurt things either.

One of the main arguments against wearing a bicycle helmet seems to be that cycling is not dangerous. Compare the number of miles traveled by bike to automobile I wonder which mode of transport is more dangerous. Motoring is also a very safe mode of transportation yet we as a society make seatbelts mandatory.

The other big argument against mandatory cycling helmets appears to be the limited effectiveness of bicycle helmets. Then maybe the answer is to raise the standards of these helmets. Make them more in line with motorcycle helmets. They are safer for sure.

I find it almost impossible to believe that anyone would be so vain as to put their life in jeopardy over something as trivial as "helmet hair." If they are that vain maybe the gene pool is better off without them.

I realize I am an old man and my priorities are different than a youngster but the arguements against helmets sounds a lot like the arguements against mandatory auto seatbelts I heard 30 or 40 years ago. Today I doubt many would defend the "right" of automobile drivers and passengers to ride without one.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted October 03, 2012 at 06:50:09 in reply to Comment 81384

Good observation re: Mac's blindspot on bike lanes (goes hand-in hand with its antipathy to public transit).

Mohawk has been undergoing historic investment/reinvention/construction. I'm sure that they laid out a similarly enlightened position, yes? What with the public health initiative going in across the street and all?

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted October 03, 2012 at 09:36:17 in reply to Comment 81386

FWIW, Mohawk took home the 2011 Smart Commute Employer of the Year Award for its achievements.

Noted: "The new weather-protected, restricted access and monitored bike cage accommodates 44 bicycles. And a bike loan program was initiated for students and staff who need temporary access to bicycles, thereby reducing their reliance on single-occupancy vehicles."

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2012 at 11:10:03

Toronto charts a path to car-free streets
John Lorinc
Globe & Mail, Oct 9, 2012

As all children and many adults know, there’s something deeply enticing about playing on the road.

But a growing number of international cities have leveraged the allure of that normally prohibited behaviour to create hugely popular festivals that allow tens of thousands of residents to literally take to the streets with their bikes, blades, boards, wheelchairs and strollers.

During a trip last winter to Guadalajara, Mexico, which played host to the 2011 PanAm Games, downtown councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam found herself swept up in one such event – the Via RecreActiva – that involves closing more than 60 kilometres of roads to vehicular traffic on Sunday mornings, when traffic in the city of 4.3 million is light.

“I’ve never experienced anything so transformative in my urban life,” said Ms. Wong-Tam, who borrowed a bike and rode it from Guadalajara’s historic core to its far-flung suburbs, passing a wide array of street-side events and impromptu soccer games.

Inspired by Guadalajara’s event, Ms. Wong-Tam told The Globe she plans to introduce a motion at council later this month asking the city to begin looking at launching something similar here in the summer of 2013.

With cyclists furious about the Jarvis bike lanes and many drivers still smarting from the summer construction season, it might not seem like a fortuitous moment to be debating street closings.

Proponents disagree: “We never talk about closing the streets,” said 8 to 80 Cities executive director Gil Penalosa, a public-space advocate who has advised cities around the world on how to plan their own versions. “We talk about opening the streets to people and closing them to cars.”

Mr. Penalosa, in fact, helped organize the first of these “ciclovias” – Spanish for bike ways – in Bogota in the 1980s. Over the past few years, the idea has spread rapidly as cities like New York, Portland, Ore., and even Winnipeg hand parts of their street networks over to pedestrians and cyclists on weekends, some occasionally and others up to once a month. Ottawa has, for years, closed the parkways along the Rideau Canal on Sundays for cyclists. Vancouver launched its own ciclovia in 2011.

Bogota’s ciclovia takes place every Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m, has drawn up to two million participants, and significantly reduces smog for the duration.

While Mr. Penalosa noted that such events are fundamentally about accessible recreation and physical activity, Ms. Wong-Tam argued a Toronto version could be a way to kindle enthusiasm for the 2015 Toronto PanAm Games.

“I love the idea of a mass participant event,” said Bruce Kidd, a former Olympian who has been outspoken about the lack of interest around the 2015 Games. He added that events like the “Ride for the Cure,” on the Don Valley Parkway, show how “liberating” it is to travel on spaces normally reserved for cars.

Those who’ve been involved in ciclovias elsewhere say events, when planned properly by municipal roads officials, don’t gum up streets like marathons because vehicles can still cross the route. “It does not shut down the city,” Mr. Penalosa insisted.

Others point out that local businesses have leapt at the opportunity to take advantage of the crowds along the route. “Proprietors are telling us this is our busiest day of the year,” said Jonathan Parfrey, a board member of L.A.’s CicLAvia, which held its fifth annual festival Sunday. “We’ve found there is some economic development taking place.”

The notion of shutting down streets for special events – from Nuit Blanche to marathons, jazz festivals and the Santa Claus parade – is hardly new to Toronto. And in Kensington Market, summer car-free Sundays have gone some distance toward reviving the fortunes of local merchants.

But closing or partially closing longer networks of arterials to cars on a more regular basis would require the city and the TTC to develop alternate routes and ensure the public and local merchants know what’s planned.

Ms. Wong-Tam will be asking council, officials and residents to develop a route that connects both the core and outer areas without creating traffic snarls. “If this is not good for business,” she said, “it will not be repeated.”

In traffic-addled L.A., politicians were initially skeptical, said Damien Newton, editor of L.A. Streetsblog. But they were pressed into action after the mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, broke his elbow in a cycling accident.

The first CicLAvia “changed the conversation” about liveable streets, he added. “There really was a latent demand for streets where people could take a walk and bike safely.”

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2012 at 22:13:56 in reply to Comment 81486

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 09, 2012 at 11:26:04 in reply to Comment 81486

This sounds totally unsafe. Where will the people get helmets?

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2012 at 10:18:00

Methinks there is an element of sophistry to this whole "helmets make cycling more dangerous" line. But then again, I'm just letting other people argue for me...I am glad to see that the discussion is getting away from the mandatory helmet law proposed, and into more significant discussion about creating safer cycling environments. I certainly don't want to force adults to wear helmets, but I don't want people suggesting that my choice to wear one is making life more dangerous for them! (the one time I needed it, it worked like a charm, and that is good enough reason for me to continue to wear one)

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2012 at 12:46:08

"A study has found that cyclists who die of a head injury are much less likely to be wearing a helmet than those who die of other injuries.

Researchers looked at 129 accidental cycling deaths in Ontario between 2006 and 2010, using data from the Office of the Chief Coroner.

They found cyclists who didn't wear a helmet were three times more likely to die of a fatal head injury than those who wore head protection while riding.

Lead author Dr. Nav Persaud says more than three-quarters of the deaths involved a collision with a motor vehicle, and most of those who died were aged 18 or older.

The family physician at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital says the study shows helmets save lives and their use should be mandatory for all ages across the country.

Legislation requiring helmet use for children and adult cyclists varies across the country.

The study is published in Monday's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal."

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:32:42 in reply to Comment 81670

Instead of wasting time talking about helmets we need to reduce these bike/car interactions to near zero. If we can accomplish that and people are still getting boo-boos then we can talk about helmets. If we aren't willing to actually reduce collisions then I cannot accept the argument that any of this is about safety FIRST. It is clearly about convenience first, followed by frugality, politicians' job security, entitlement, etc. Safety is obviously way down the line.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 15, 2012 at 14:46:36 in reply to Comment 81670

Researchers looked at 129 accidental cycling deaths in Ontario between 2006 and 2010, using data from the Office of the Chief Coroner.

Until we know how many cyclists with and without helmets died, we can tell almost nothing about how valuable Dr. Persaud's conclusion is.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted October 16, 2012 at 19:25:03

Hallelujah. Science has finally caught up to common sense. I saw an article in today's Toronto Star that the latest scientific study shows that you are 3x more likely to die in a bicycle accident without a helmet than you are with one. Although common sense will not necessarily give you that number it would tell you that you are better off with a bicycle helmet than with out one.

I am sure that the diehards on the site will try to bend the numbers or spin the results to serve their pet causes there really is no disputing this, if there ever was one. It is all the same arguments that were made 30 or 40 years ago when seatbelt use became compulsory.

The only thing I am surprised at is how long it took to get here.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 16, 2012 at 21:07:11 in reply to Comment 81770

My pet cause is for society to give a shit about actually making roads safer rather than wrapping everyone in bubble wrap and setting them loose to collide with each other.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 17, 2012 at 08:08:38 in reply to Comment 81776

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 19:35:50

It never ends. The Jolley Cut was there first and then a park was built around it. How do we tolerate that? Very well indeed.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2013 at 21:29:13

The big difference in the two cities is size the thing that you always ignore. Dublin is all of 115 Km2 while Melbourne is a new world city and covers almost 1600 Km2. That has to be a crippling factor for riding a bike. A trip across town in Dublin would figure to be 10 or 15 Km at best while in Melbourne it would be 50 or 60 Km. That is a huge factor in riding a bike. How many people will ride a bike 25 or 30 Km to work, assuming that their trip is half way cross town. A lot less people will ride their bike 25 or 30 Km no matter the terrain.

Like most new world cities Melbourne is built and functions as a city based around the car wide modern streets and lots of parking. Dublin is a typical old world city small compact with narrow roads and very little parking. Before you push your false cause and affect of why cycling is more popular in Dublin than Melbourne try looking at the real causes of cycling popularity. But then truth is not very high on your list so I guess it just does not matter to you, just keep pushing the nonsense.

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By assumptions (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:45:14 in reply to Comment 85021

Yes, it makes total sense to assume all trips are some percentage of "across town".

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2013 at 08:21:46 in reply to Comment 85060

The silliness never ends.

OK then if you are that dense let me put it another way. In a compact old world city many more people live within cycling range of a any given location then in a spread out new world city. Is that better? Can you grasp that concept?

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