Montreal’s opposition party, Ensemble Montreal, wants to make the streets of the city safer for children on bicycles.
Opposition leader Lionel Perez said he will ask the mayor to make helmets mandatory for riders under the age of 18.
McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) pediatric surgeon Dr. Hussein Wissanji said head injuries are a common occurrence in the emergency, and cycling without a helmet is part of the problem.
“We learned that nearly one child out of two who consulted our emergency department was not wearing a helmet at the time of injury,” said Wissanji.
The opposition is hoping to change that.
“Ask Montrealers who are under the age of eighteen be required to wear a helmet while riding their bike on the city streets,” said Perez.
“Despite a relatively appreciable rate of wearing helmets there’s still many cases that aren’t currently tracked,” he said.
For cyclist Jean-Frederique Messier, letting his son ride his bike in Montreal is a battle.
“It’s not safe right now, it’s very dangerous– I prefer he doesn’t bike,” he said.
The opposition is also hoping to convince the administration to distribute free helmets to families of low-income neighborhoods.
According to Perez, they are the most vulnerable.
“We believe this one additional measure that will be able to have a true effect in reducing that cases and numbers of traumas in Quebec without reducing the numbers of cyclists,” said Perez.
For Messier, the new proposed measures are good, but more could be done.
“One thing that’d be great is that the Code de la route was never developed for bikes they were made for vehicles,” said Messier. “I feel very very unsafe cycling in Montreal that’s why I wear this reflective jacket — please don’t hit me.”
But not everyone agrees with the motion to oblige children under 18 to wear helmets.
“I definitely agree with kids, but I wouldn’t go with under 18,” said Concordia student Dean Bertoia. “I would go with under 16, but at some point, it’s your own volition whether you want to or not.”
Dr. Wissanji said his young patient Maria Bombo suffered severe head injuries from a bicycle crash because she decided not to wear her helmet that day — she had just gotten her hair braided.
According to Wissanji, Bombo’s case is not uncommon. Many children decide not to wear helmets for stylistic reasons.
“I think that’s the main reason probably why I don’t wear a helmet,” said Bertoia. “Because you look a little dorky, but again, it’s probably the smarter thing to do.”
The City of Montreal told Global News that they would not comment on the subject before the next council meeting on Sept. 16.
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