Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne has promised to bring forward another motion at the 2022 SUMA convention calling on the province to make bike helmets mandatory.
Saskatchewan is one of the only provinces in Canada without such a law, although some individual cities like Yorkton do have them on the books. Dionne made a similar request in 2021, and said he’s going to keep making them until the province passes a law.
“We know helmets work, and so we’re going to continue our work every year,” Dionne said. “We’re determined. You’re going to hear us at SUMA every year in front of everyone. We’re not going to stop until (the province) gives us the law, so give it to us. Maybe this is the year.”
Dionne made the comments during the BrainLove campaign kickoff at the Prince Albert Inn on March 1. He received a watermelon bike helmet from campaign organizers, and vowed to wear it when he rose to make his motion again at SUMA.
He said it’s difficult for Prince Albert to create their own bylaw, since many residents who visit the city may get ticketed because they don’t know it exists.
“We’re a city of tourism,” he said. “If we have a tourist come in and ride their bike from Saskatoon, and we pull them over, (and say) ‘we’re giving you a ticket for not wearing your helmet,’ that just won’t work.
“We’ll continue to push the province,” he added. “We’re one of the few provinces in the country … that doesn’t have mandatory bike helmets. As a city, we can’t do it alone, and that’s why we’ve asked the province to join us.”
The City of Prince Albert also asked for a provincial bike helmet law at the 2015 SUMA convention, and they’re not alone in their efforts. The Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA) says the legislation will reduce deaths and injuries from bike accidents. In 2017, the SBIA said bike helmets can reduce the chances of brain injuries by 88 per cent. Roughly three-quarters of cyclist fatalities are the result of brain injuries.
The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) has also called on the province to introduce a new law. They approved a resolution supporting mandatory bike helmets at their fall convention in 2016.
Research shows head injuries do drop after provinces introduce mandatory bike helmet laws, but so do the number of cyclists. Statistics Canada data from 2017 shows the percentage of Canadians who bike dropped from 28.7 per cent in 1994-95 to 23.7 per cent in 2013-14. The number of cyclist fatalities also rose during that period, from 284 between 1994 and 1997, to 339 between 2009 and 2012.
Researchers attributed the rise in fatalities to a lack of safe cycling areas where riders are physically separated from traffic.
The next SUMA meeting is scheduled for April 3-6 in Regina.