I’m disappointed by The Record’s coverage of the provincial coroner’s Cycling Death Review for its narrow focus on the mandatory helmet law at the expense of the thirteen credible recommendations, especially Luisa D’Amato’s scaremongering column. (Update: Friday’s editorial is a step in the right direction.) The example she provides of the recent injury is hardly relevant to the helmet discussion. The incident, which resulted from the cyclist violating several traffic laws, could have been prevented entirely without the aid of a helmet.
The coroner’s better recommendations will guide us here. Consider if the intersection had been designed with a ‘complete streets’ approach, with dedicated cycling infrastructure. What if the cyclist also had received and was tested in public school on bicycle safety and the rules of the road? What if he was confident enough to take his lawful place on the road, not on the sidewalk, with the knowledge that other traffic would respect him? This young man would have made his way home safely, regardless of what he did or didn’t have strapped to his head.
No one is taking their life into their own hands when they get on a bicycle. Instead, we all share responsibility for each others’ welfare on the road. That requires that we do everything possible to prevent collisions, not accept them as inevitable. As it says on the front page of the coroner’s report, “road safety is everyone’s responsibility.”