Vancouver cyclists rack up hundreds of tickets for not wearing helmets

If you ride a bike, you might want to wear a helmet. It’s not only the safe thing to do; it could keep you from getting a $29 ticket from the Vancouver Police Department.

Officers handed out at least 156 tickets to cyclists in the first three months of the year, and 139 of those for were riding without a helmet.

Police are on track to double those totals in April, May, and June, with at least 294 tickets—266 of those for “no helmet” offences—so far, and June isn’t over yet.

Const. Brian Montague, a spokesperson for the VPD, told the Georgia Straight that police aren’t targeting cycling violations with a ticketing blitz.

“I think it’s pretty safe to say that, as the weather improves, you get more cyclists out there and you’re just going to see more tickets,” Montague said by phone.

According to Montague, in most cases, these tickets were issued by officers who observed cyclists committing offences during the course of their regular patrol duties. He noted that officers have the discretion to hand out a ticket or just a warning.

“We want to make sure that, if someone does get in a collision, that the potential for injury is reduced,” said Montague, who added that tickets are issued to “change behaviour”.

VPD statistics provided to the Straight show that, so far in 2014, the department has issued a total of 454 tickets for “cycling-specific” violations of the Motor Vehicle Act. Of those, 405 tickets were for “not properly wearing a bicycle safety helmet”.

Twenty-eight tickets were for riding on the sidewalk. Officers also issued $109 tickets to cyclists riding in crosswalks, without headlights at night, and “without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons”, and those committing other offences.

Comments (17) Add New Comment
Excellent
I think this is great. As a taxpayer I don't want to pay for easily preventable injuries. Now if we can just ticket bike riders who don't stop at stop signs/stop lights, ride on the sidewalk, speed, ride the wrong way then we'll be much better. Put license plates on bikes so the police can more easily ticket too!
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Beatriz
Bikes need to have an identification of some kind
As is bike riders have total impunity.
Last winter at about 7:30 am I found a lady on the ground in a big deal if pain , here in Gastown , she asked me to call
ambulance because she couldn't move I did, and kept her company till medical help arrived, it comes out a guy riding his bike on the side walk knocked her to the ground and took off living her there . Months after I met this lady , she lives nearby, she told me her arm and collar bone were broken as a result of this person riding his bike on the side walk.
It is unacceptable we payed millions for bike lanes and still some people riding bikes wherever they want, because they know there is not accountability .Like in the Wild West .
I have a dog and pay to the city every year to have her license .
License bikes too even if is for free , let them be accountable instead if annonymous.
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no helmet
Been riding a bike for 50 years no helmet. I'm not about to start, the nanny state needs to stay out of the citizens lives. Whats next helmets while you jog or while you sleep, just in case you sleep walk?
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martin kent
Law abiding bicyclist wear helmets. The rest are lawless.
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The spokesman
So, to the VPD, it is most important, and far more important than all other traffic code obligations combined, to wear a helmet to reduce injuries.
This runs counter to common sense which tells us to prevent injuries, it is better to avoid a collision altogether than have one while wearing a helmet.
The VPD will turn a blind eye to riding at night with no lights, running through red lights at intersections, and even riding on the wrong side of the road, but ride without a helmet and not only is a ticket issued, the cyclist is forced off the bicycle which is the greatest tragedy of all because it's been proven numerous times that people who ride bikes live longer and healthier lives than that of the general population, even they aren't wearing helmets.
The police are stopping people from doing what is good for them (and the rest of society as well)
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Jonathan
Since the statistics clearly indicate that the rate of head injury per kilometre travelled is no higher for cycling than for driving or walking, I demand that drivers and pedestrians be legally required to wear helmets. This is clearly the fair and sensible course of action, instead of investing in infrastructure to keep people safe in their necessary movement around the city.
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equality
But the law needs to be enforced to everyone including those who wear turbans.
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Jimmy
Beatriz, Excellent, and martin kent: Cyclists do not obey all laws to the letter because the laws are not sensitive or proportional to the actual danger: which is motor vehicle traffic--most especially distracted drivers, which is perhaps why ONE cyclist--who certainly does not represent ALL cyclists--in that case rode on the sidewalk with unfortunate consequences. But really, Gastown: How do you know he wasn't high etc etc? Law abiding motorists drive not one iota over the speed limit. Ever. The rest should have their licenses taken away. So yes, cops sitting on bike routes ticketing helmetless riders is completely ridiculous if they think they are encouraging safe behaviour. All they're doing is pissing people off who are safe--I.E. THEY'RE ON A BIKE.
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Richard
What the VPD really needs to focus on is stopping illegal right on reds along the bike routes. Hornby and Georgia and Burrard at Cornwall would be good starts. While many drivers are doing fine there are a few that are not obeying the lights. Enough to be dangerous. There are even drivers that are passing cars that are waiting as required then making illegal rights from the centre lane. Very dangerous. These guys should lose their licences.
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Rating: +6
Get off the sidewalk!
I would rather see police giving tickets for sidewalk riding, along with changes in the bylaw that would allow bikes to be seized when caught riding on the sidewalk. I don't care about helmet laws, the arguments about "paying for injuries" are ridiculous: we get subsidized healthcare and don't get to complain about what folly puts an individual there. If a cyclist injures him/herself because of a choice so be it. What is absurd is the number of people who believe that riding on the sidewalk is reasonable, particularly when a bike lane or route is nearby. Stop riding on the sidewalk, call out fellow riders and show some responsibility for community behaviour. I have been hit by more cyclists on the sidewalk than cars on the road, the funny thing is only 1 of 4 cyclists apologies and 2 saw fit to launch a tirade and/or make a range of hand gestures.

Summary:
ride without a helmet, that law is nanny state garbage
do not ride on the sidewalk, that is self-centred disregard for those on two feet
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BikerCK
Why aren't Vancouver Police enforcing this bylaw, esp at mass events such as the Gran Fondo?

60B. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a street unless the bicycle is equipped with a bell
capable of being used as a warning.

A bell is an easy, cheap way to warn pedestrians of your approach. Far too many cyclists, esp. roadies in training, fail to have this mandated piece of equipment?

Also, when can we expect some enforcement of the 30 kph speed limit on local bike routes? Too many motorists are blatantly ignoring this sensible limit. No wonder timid cyclists choose sidewalks.
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Idiot
No helmet bicycling is like no seat belt driving. you deserve the ticket.
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Richard
@Id.

Uh, no. Cycling without a helmet is like driving without a helmet. Cycling with a seatbelt on would be dangerous.

Now, as with cycling wearing a helmet while in a car would be a good idea that would prevent head injuries. However, better for the police to focus on enforcing laws that prevent crashes and help make the roads safer for everyone.
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out at night
Busting cyclists for not wearing helmets is picking the low hanging fruit isn't it? Much more dangerous cyclist behaviours abound but this one must appeal to lazy cops who don't like us much to begin with. How about impounding all those bikes being ridden around with no brakes for starters?
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ENVIROSURFER
Recently we had a day that was supposed to be without cars on BC roads. I would love to think that the CAR ADORING public in BC gave one thought about this pipe dream day. It is a gigantic piece of hogwash. All I see here is cars anf ever larger trucks racing by me every day with ever bigger car lots selling luxury cars to (wealthy internationals) people that ADORE the car culture our previous generation gave birth to with gusto. The "great" PATTISON made his first dollars selling used boats (I mean huge cars that suck gas and oil) back in the 50s. He should read more of what Andrew Carnegie did for society before he passed. His ilk and the power structure should be the ones responsible for cleaning this car addiction and the consequences of it up. They are to blame directly for this indifference on wheels. They sold the world decades before this mess to the car companies and rapacious dealers. Obama had his boot on the necks of car companies back in 2009 and still did nothing but cower and give in. We have ingrained in teens their success is tied to the auto and more and more perish in terrible accidents than any other pursuits. Car mobility is cherished and truly an extension of the worst kind of people. They are greed personified. Mobility out here is even more RAW and longed for than any place I have ever lived. Newcomers have only brought this to another level. The only solution to get people out of their cars is to make gas and oil prices prohibitive. Definitely ban bad drivers from the road. RAISE THE AGE OF GETTING A DL TO 21. MAKE CAR POOLING MANDATORY. RESTRICT CAR USE GOING INTO MAJOR CITIES. REDUCE THE COST OF BUSES.BUILD MORE BIKE PATHS. MAKE ELECTRIC TAXIS A REALITY. Use models like Freiburg, Germany that only have trains going into that city. They have survived just fine. You will save hundreds of lives maybe thousands.This is a sad fact. We do nothing because just like Obama we cower in the face of such cold indifference and think our way of life will end if we MAKE PROPER CHANGES to ensure a safer and less polluted road.
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RUK
I am tentatively ok with enforcing helmet bylaws on cyclists in the hope that it would spur some self-protective actions in cyclists who are currently of the reckless, silly variety.

Every day, I ride and see lots of people riding with reasonable care and awareness of their surroundings, but also lots of cyclists who whiz past with no warning or bell, who have no lights or even reflectors, who do not signal, who fill their ears with audio gear....

An extreme example is this young fellow who wears all red from top to bottom, and a bandana - no helmet, obviously - cutting across multiple lanes of traffic while giving the finger ambidextrously to cars in both directions.

When and if this bozo gets the ghost cycle tribute he so obviously merits, I am going to take my dog to take a crap on it.

In the meantime, VPD could also assure us that it is taking drivers seriously as well. The past crackdown on texters does not seem to have ameliorated that behavior at all.
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your face
wearing helmets does NOT save lives, bike lanes do.
dutch tourists scoff at our lame city by law of helmet enforcement......
vancouver still remains the no fun city with its pathetic laws.....hm
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