Advocate says helmets unsafe, feds indifferent
A former member of the Brain Injury Association says he's fed up with government inaction on creating steadfast standards for bike helmets. (FOTOLIA)
As cycling season arrives, a West Vancouver parent and safety advocate says government needs to commit to legally binding legislation and standards for bike helmets — accusing politicians of allowing safety to take a back seat to marketing.
Canada has no legal standards for bike helmets, and Richard Kinar said he’s been told by his Member of Parliament, Conservative John Weston, that part of the reason is because “conservative values” resist meddling in the marketplace.
“They would prefer industry to self-regulate, and the helmet industry has lobbied against any use of any type of standard,” Kinar said.
Kinar — a former board member of the Brain Injury Association of Canada — said many helmets are just designed for looks and listed as “protective hats.”
Parents often end up buying the hats thinking they are safe, but in reality they don’t meet any safety standards.
“They’re not a helmet and they don’t meet standards and unless parents are more vigilant these helmets can and have contributed to injury or death,” Kinar said.
Anthony Toderian of the Canadian Standards Association echoed Kinar’s statements, but said the organization does have regulations — they just aren’t legally binding.
“We developed a standard, but nobody’s testing to that standard at the moment because it is quite rigorous,” Toderian said. “It’s up to helmet manufacturers, they can test to any standards they want and import helmets into Canada ... they don’t have to meet any kind of standard.”
Toderian said there are a number of certified helmets, but people need to make sure they have been subject to some standard of testing.
Health Canada said provinces are responsible for their own helmet legislation, though in Canada hockey helmets must meet CSA standards.
But Kinar produced a letter from the provincial Ministry of Transportation indicating Victoria would support stricter rules and enforcement of helmet standards.
He alleged the feds don’t want to take the responsibility either because of the industry concerns.
“When my MP tells me conservative values stand in the way it makes my blood boil,” Kinar said.
John Weston did not return a call for comment.