Electric bike: compulsory wearing of helmets criticized

Electric bike: compulsory wearing of helmets criticized
Electric bike: compulsory wearing of helmets criticized

Several cyclists have received a fine for not having worn a helmet on an electric bike, particularly on a Bixi, an obligation which is far from unanimous.

“I’m 60 years old and I’ve been riding a bike since I was 5 years old and I learned to ride a bike while paying attention to safety. I never needed the helmet,” says Antoine Sprecher.

Like many users of Bixi self-service bikes, he does not wear a helmet, even when he rides an electrically assisted one.

“I know that there are infractions and that they have more control, but I take the chance,” said the Montrealer.

Between 2021 and 2023, the number of fines for violating the specific article for electric bicycles in the Road safety code jumped 70% in Montreal.

Wearing a helmet on an electric bike

Fines given for failure to wear a helmet

Year Offenses
2021 1126
2022 1605
2023 1922

Last year, 1,922 cyclists were punished because they had non-compliant bicycles, were not 18 years old or had a moped license, or did not wear a helmet.

The most common bicycle offenses

2021-2023

Rank Offense Occurrences
1 Red light not respected 7,210
2 Riding an electric bike without a license or helmet 4,653
3 Wear headphones 2,310
4 Stop not respected 1,746
5 Driving on the sidewalk 1,238

“I don’t usually use an electric bike, but today I couldn’t find one [d’autres] at the station, in front of my house and I have to go to work, pleads Moh. I don’t have headphones at home.”

Without a helmet, Edwin Arrojo gave up taking one of the 12 electric bikes available at the Père-Marquette park station.

Moh couldn’t find a standard bike near his home and had to get an electric Bixi.

Photo Dominique Cambron-Goulet

An exemption requested

Vélo Québec believes that self-service electric bikes, such as Bixi, or àVélo à Québec, should be exempt from wearing helmets. The organization plans to request this regulatory modification from the Government of Quebec.

“This obligation is not very compatible with the spontaneous use that we make of a self-service bicycle,” judges Magali Bebronne.

According to an internal survey carried out by Bixi in 2021, only 52% of users claimed to wear a helmet when traveling by electric bike.

Mme Bebronne suggests lowering the maximum speed of these bikes from 32 to 25 km/h to keep it safe.

“Studies show that bicycles limited to 25 km/h with only pedal assistance do not represent any more risk than conventional bicycles,” she says.

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