Bicycle Helmets- Must We Wear Them?

Written by: Ziv Tsimerman

Growing up, my mother would force me to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Any disobedience on my part would result in a day spent inside. I often wondered whether this was merely a strict rule of the house, or whether not wearing a helmet is contrary to the law.

The Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8 as amended, governs the laws with respect to bicycle helmets in Ontario. Section 104(1) of the Act reads: "No person shall ride on or operate a motorcycle or motor assisted bicycle on a highway unless the person is wearing a helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin". Thus, if you plan on riding a motorcycle or motor assisted bicycle, you must wear a helmet.

The Act also stipulates the law regarding bicyclists. Section 104 (2.1) reads: "Subject to subsection 103.1 (2), no person shall ride on or operate a bicycle on a highway unless the person is wearing a bicycle helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin". The Act defines "highway" as including "a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle, any part of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof".

In light of this definition, bicyclists of all ages must wear a helmet with a securely fastened chin strap whenever they know or ought to know that they will be in the vicinity of motor vehicles. In any event, a bicycle helmet can greatly reduce the risk of permanent injury or death in the event of a fall or collision and should be worn at all times.

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