Bicycle helmet fight continues in court

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      Justice has been delayed for a local cyclist representing himself in a charter challenge of the provincial law requiring cyclists to wear helmets.

      In August 2009, Vancouver police issued Ron van der Eerden a $29 ticket under Section 184 of the provincial Motor Vehicle Act for not wearing a helmet. Van der Eerden decided he would fight the ticket, and the court agreed to hear his case at provincial traffic court on August 12.

      “It’s been adjourned,” van der Eerden told the Straight by phone on August 16. “They went all day [August 12] and then they realized, ‘Well, this is running out of time; they are going to need more time,’ and it also came up that it could be that we’re completely in the wrong court. Which is interesting because, well, this is where they put me, you know?”

      Van der Eerden said he is not sure why the provincial court may not have jurisdiction to hear the case. He said all will be revealed in October when the case resumes.

      “I think it actually went quite well,” van der Eerden added of his day in court. “It’s disappointing that this is another kind of bureaucratic, legal thing that isn’t getting me where I ultimately want to be. But in terms of the way the court process worked that day, and the way the two expert witnesses were called—one from either side—and [the fact that] I had all day, or two-and-a-half hours or more, to tear apart their case. And I thought that was pretty good, if the court allows me to get there.”

      Since the Straight first reported on van der Eerden’s challenge, dozens of comments have poured in to both the online and the print version of the paper.

      Van der Eerden has always maintained that the provincial helmet law needs to go, as he believes it sends the signal that cycling is an unsafe activity. He said he is still not wearing a helmet out on the road.



      Dennis Shewchuk

      Aug 18, 2011 at 10:37am

      And Darwins Theory lives on..Common sense he has not...Oh well.....

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      Mike H.

      Aug 18, 2011 at 2:50pm

      What a waste of court time. You are riding your bike in traffic alongside cars and you do not think you need to wear a helmet? What a fool.

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      Opus the Poet

      Aug 18, 2011 at 6:52pm

      All a bicycle helmet was designed to do is keep you from breaking your skull of you fall down in a 0 MPH wreck, the design impact speed is 12.5 MPH (20 km/hr) and the impact load is (I think, don't have the spec in front of me) 88G (might be 100G). Note that while the load will prevent skull fractures it is still well above the 35G where brain damage can occur. And a helmet will do nothing in an impact with a motor vehicle except keep the mess inside. So for the person that was quailing at the rider in traffic without a helmet, a cyclist without a helmet is almost as safe as one with a helmet. Even in wrecks where a cyclist dies from a head injury that was just what killed him first, there is almost always blunt force trauma to the torso that would have killed the rider even if they had been wearing the perfect helmet that prevented all head injury.

      It's not bicycles that are dangerous in traffic, it's the cars.

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      Urban Rider

      Aug 18, 2011 at 6:56pm

      Is he worried he'll have helmet hair? Sheesh! If you value your brain you would wear a helmet.

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      Aug 18, 2011 at 9:21pm

      Repeal the provincial law requiring cyclists to wear helmets? Sure, and why not get rid of seat belts & child safety seats too while we're at it!! This idiot might not value his life, but I really don't care to see anyone's brains splattered across the pavement. Admittedly, a helmet, pads, & safety gear may not be a guarantee against possible injury or death for a cyclist who has the misfortune to be involved in an accident, but the instinct for self-preservation & survival should prompt any reasonable person to strive to improve their odds rather than reduce them to near nil.

      IMO laws governing cyclists need to be tougher: helmets, lights/reflectors at night, obeying signs/traffic lights, walking bikes across crosswalks or waiting for the light with the rest of us, licensing & INSURANCE! Right now, even if the cyclist is 100% at fault, the motorist is penalized since they're the only insured party -- once a cyclist claims injury, it's all over for the motorist, no matter the circumstances.

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      Aug 20, 2011 at 8:08am

      All you folks who think that its nuts to ride without a helmet in traffic might like to ponder why those countries with very low helmet wearing rates are so much much safer for cyclists than Vancouver. Life doesn't seem to work like you think it does.

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      Save Vancouver

      Aug 20, 2011 at 11:19am

      TonyS - fortunately most people posting here realize that taxing the bejeezus out of your citizens is an idea that best stay in Europe. Feel free to take your social engineering ideas to Holland and enjoy the tulips.

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      Sep 7, 2011 at 5:51pm

      I just got home from my daily work commute, during which I was stopped on a nice quiet side street by two cops hiding behind a moving van - for NOT wearing a helmet.
      Here's my 2 cents. When you are riding your bike, you're supposed to be paying attention to what you're doing, and your surroundings - ie: what others are doing. If you do this, there's not much chance of getting into any sort of accident. Spare me the " you never know when you're gonna get T-boned by some speeding lunatic" nonsense... because, YES, you WILL KNOW if you are paying attention...duh.
      People who get hit by cars, or fall off their bikes without the help of a car, were doing something wrong for that scenario to unfold. I see people everyday on bikes who have no business being anywhere near a bicycle, because they obviously have horrible balance. Go down to the sea wall one day and watch all the folks struggling to stay upright on a bike like it's some sort of mechanical bull. Yeah, THOSE people are the reason WE ALL get screwed by things like helmet laws. I'm not saying that automobiles aren't at fault for their part in collisions, but the accidents wouldn't happen if people would just learn how to ride their bikes properly.
      If we are going to make helmet laws for bicycles, then common sense dictates that there should also be helmet laws for soccer players ( check the statistics on concussions there if you doubt me ), basketball players, baseball players, pilots, motorists, warehouse workers, and basically everything else under the sun where there's a slight chance you might hit your poor wittle headie poo. Man, people are turning into a bunch of wussies..... and we really need to weed out the CURLYGIRLs out there before you have to get a license and insurance to operate your toaster. Geez,....

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      Give Me A Break Already!

      Sep 18, 2011 at 4:00pm

      Choosing to not wear a bcicycle helmet should be an individual's right. Unlike many car accidents, the majority of bicycle accidents are NOT catastrophic. In addition, most evidence suggests that bicycle helmets have little impact of prevention and safety anyways.

      Instead, bicycle helmet laws simply add an extra barrier to people getting out and being active. As now instead of simply hopping on you bike for a nice recreational ride, you have to buy a helmet, store a helmet, walk around or find a place to put your helmet at your destination and YES, consider that you may not want your hair to look like you've jut rolled out of bed if you're heading out to socialize somewhere.

      Inactivity and obesity is a far larger health problem in Canada, than bicycle accidents. Government needs to recognize that if they win this battle, they are really just losing a far more important war.

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      Nov 2, 2011 at 7:51am

      Are the courts now going to make up their minds, or are they trying to sweep this under the rug? This is what happens when poliitians don't consult the public before enacting a law. In Quebec the medical professionals called the bicycle advocates Nazis and failed big time. No helmet law in Quebec!

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