Jamie Graham says cops should seize bicycles if cyclists are caught four times without a helmet

When Jamie Graham completed his tenure as Vancouver's police chief in 2007, many thought that this ended his influence over local residents.

Poll

If cyclists are caught without a helmet four times, should police be allowed to seize their bikes?

Yes 26%
55 votes
No 74%
153 votes

Over his five-year term, Graham's authoritarian tendencies sometimes became a public issue.

This was particularly true in his responses to Pivot Legal Society allegations of police misconduct in the Downtown Eastside.

He was known back then as a cop's chief—someone who wouldn't fry an officer who became a little overzealous on the job. 

He wasn't afraid to take on the Hells Angels or to excoriate critics of the department.

And who can forget the time he dropped a bullet-splattered target from the shooting range on the desk of then–city manager Judy Rogers?

Graham apologized for that, but the incident only reinforced his tough-guy image. It may have even helped him get hired as chief of the Victoria Police Department.

Now, Graham's back again to haunt Vancouverites, this time as chair of the B.C. Association of Police Chiefs traffic-safety committee.

The Vancouver Sun's Kevin Griffin has reported that Graham wants the mandatory-helmet law changed to allow police to seize bicycles if the owner is caught four times riding without headgear.

Graham also wants fines sharply increased from $29 for cycling without a helmet.

But the most astonishing part of Griffin's article was Graham's suggestion that if people don't wear a bicycle helmet, they should sign a document forefeiting their right to use the medical system if they suffer a head injury while cycling.

That's pretty mean-spirited, especially when you think of poverty-stricken Downtown Eastside cyclists who can't afford a $60 helmet. Teenagers' prefrontal cortexes haven't sufficiently developed to provide them with the judgement to know when not to take risks.

Graham may not be aware that there is a physician in this province—Dr. Tom Demarco—who supported a legal challenge against the province's mandatory-helmet law.

Believe it or not, there is a public debate over this legislation.

One of the city's best-known cyclists, former city councillor Peter Ladner, told CBC's Mark Forsythe earlier this summer that he thinks the mandatory-helmet law should be repealed.

But Graham still wants police to be able to seize people's two-wheelers.

When Graham appeared on the cover of the Georgia Straight in 2005, the headline read "urban general".

Perhaps a more accurate title would have been "urban generalissimo" in recognition of his latest recommendation.

Comments (70) Add New Comment
Flick Harrison
Sure Jamie - and when people get four speeding tickets, we should seize their car.

Four jaywalking tickets, we seize their legs.

Same logic, right?
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Rating: +60
Vancouver love
A helmet saved my life. I was so messed up for years as a result of a bike accident that was not my fault. I like this guy. Most people can't fathom what a head injury does to someone if they even survive. He's doing many people a BIG favor by being strict with helmets.
Rating: -435
Brad
What the heck is Jamie Graham is going on about?
With the health and societal benefits from riding bicycles clearly established, and recently published research showing cycling being no more risky than going out for a walk (http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/view/3621/2744), and our Canadian bicycle helmet laws having no clear benefit (http://www.medpagetoday.com/CriticalCare/HeadTrauma/39122), why does he want to increase fines and take away bicycles from people who are riding just because they are riding without helmets?
Perhaps he's holding onto old beliefs that have since been proven false (http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/19036/feds-will-stop-hyping-eff...) but it seems to me, if he wants to be of service to the public, he should be more up to date on his information.
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Rating: +36
since when
did the police make the law?
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Rating: +30
anonymous
I was surprised to see how much police make in BC. Jamie Graham, for instance, makes over $180,000/yr. Just sayin'

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Rating: +21
Cars
Here's a way of saving all kinds of lives: make cars that don't go over the speed limit - would save a lot more lives than all of these assinine, distracting-from-the-real-problems pronouncements. Factor in the health benefits of more people riding bikes and you have even more lives saved, and taxpayer money saved.
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Rating: +18
Michael Gratton
Seize bikes after four offences? Sure, just so long as we seize cars as well. After all, cars actually kill people.
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Rating: +31
Mr Marc
I think he should be spanked at the Art Gallery by Jamie Lee Hamilton for being so extreme!
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Rating: +6
Meathead
Hey Jamie! What part of SHUT THE FUCK UP!!! don't you understand? Had you made your opinion as a civilian perhaps I would given you some consideration. But since you're a cop you've only earned my contempt once again... and it's getting tedious. So here's a suggestion and strongly encourage you to embrace: Stick your fascist opinions up your ass and rotate!
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Rating: +13
Anonymous
Only thing that bicycle helmet laws do is make sure no one will ride their bicycle. Not the best route to take if you want a greener BC.
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Rating: +17
Fact Check
British Columbia is one of perhaps a dozen jurisdictions in the world that mandates bicycle helmets for adults. When the law was passed in the 1990s, it was based on a worried Mom from Richmond (she wanted her teenage son to wear one), and a single study (provided by a helmet company) that has since been discredited.

Many other countries around the world have considered, and rejected such legislation, because it has been proven to discourage the most casual cyclists, who also happen to be the slowest and safest on the road. Cities like Paris have found true bike safety comes from numbers, infrastructure, and behaviour, and experience very few injuries despite helmet use of about 2%.

In the face of soaring law enforcement budgets, we must also consider the effect enforcing this law has on police resources. It's not uncommon for the VPD, for example, to park four motorcycle officers on a quiet, traffic-calmed bikeway on a sunny summer morning, and issue tickets to hundreds of cyclists passing by. I can't help but think their time, effort and expense would be much better applied elsewhere.
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Rating: +40
Stu
As a former professional bike racer, I have seen the damage done by the impact when not wearing a helmet. We talk about the damage to professional hockey players due the impact and abuse their heads take, yet we so quickly dismiss the possible damage of a head hitting the road without protection. I ride my bike daily and don't see how having to wear a helmet would stop me from riding. If we think that the poor and under-priveleged can't afford helmets, then perhaps the income from fines could be used to fund a program for helmets for the poor.
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Rating: -40
Whelp.
@ Vancouver Love.

That's awesome that a helmet saved your life. all people are asking for is a law that is based on science, not emotion.
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Rating: +32
Sarah
If we're going to start making people forfeit medical care for poor choices shouldn't we start with drug users, smokers, and the morbidly obese?
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Rating: +19
Rick in Richmond
We require motorbike riders to wear safety helmets for good and obvious reasons. They protect lives. That debate was over years ago, and we are the better for it.

We require bicyclists to wear safety helmets for the same reasons, and at all ages. The science is clear. These helmets save lives, and protect against devastating injury.

We also require the use of seatbelts in automobiles. That debate also ended, years ago. Lives are saved, every year, thereby. No one can question this.

Not only do we save lives, and reduce terrible injury, but we save money by doing so. A great deal of money.

Seatbelts and safety helmets serve a parallel purpose.

When someone REFUSES to wear a safety helmet, and suffers terrible injury thereby, they are costing the people of BC hundreds of thousands of dollars. We all pay the price for such stupidity.

There's nothing fair about that.
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Rating: -21
Shepsil
Graham should go to Syria where a bully like him might meet his match.
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Rating: 0
yo
van police have nothing better to do than waist everyones money and time on this garbage... fuck sakes lets all not be allowed to walk around with no kneepads and wristguards or a death tazering... isnt police brutality higher on the agenda of dangerouse stuff to watch out for?? retorical.. yes!! mrs greham is obviously a large douchebag..
Rating: +407
hey
how about giving out $150 fines for all these bike riding dickheads on the sidewalks??? i don't mean ticket small children biking on sidewalks or the occasional bicyclist temporarily riding the sidewalk when the busy city street traffic seems dangerous...i mean those grown teenage and adult assholes on bikes that are riding on sidewalks when there is no traffic at all on quiet residential streets. Self entitled selfish, arrogant vancouver dickheads, bike or no bikes.
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Rating: -4
Mr.Soft
Is he the bicycle version of Robocop?
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twocooldoods
this is a no brainer...or maybe I should said a no damaged brainer. You get a head injury and you are not wearing a helmet......unless it can be proven that someone else is to blame, YOU pay your medical costs. You get a brain/head injury and you are wearing a helmet, the FREE Canadian Health care system will look after you.......what do you think?
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Rating: -33

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