Cycling Physician Supports Ron van der Eerden's constitutional challenge to BC bike helmet laws

Cycling physician Tom Demarco says he “absolutely” supports a Vancouver resident’s charter challenge of the provincial law requiring cyclists to wear helmets.

In August 2009, cyclist Ron van der Eerden decided to fight the $29 ticket he received for not wearing a helmet under Section 184 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act.

“And it turns out that the only avenue to fight it—if you admit that you weren’t wearing one [a helmet]—is to fight it as a charter challenge,” van der Eerden said. “Because, basically, that is my reasoning: that the law is unjust and ineffective and actually has quite the opposite effect of what it is intending to do. You know, the intention is to make things safer for cyclists, and I think it actually does the opposite.”

Ron van der Eerden is challenging the ticket under Sections 1, 7, and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court will hear his arguments on August 12, 2011. Van der Eerden is representing himself in the case.

“Bicycle helmet legislation is discriminatory as it applies, with demonstrable justification, only to individuals who ride bicycles without being equally applied to individuals who drive automobiles or walk,” van der Eerden wrote in the court documents.

“I think that the helmet law is bad, not only in terms of cycling but also from a public-health perspective. From a safety perspective, it’s very misguided legislation,” Tom Demarco told the Georgia Straight by phone from his Whistler office. “It’s doing far more harm than good.”

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