MUHC doctors call for Quebec helmet law

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Quebec is way behind in not requiring bike helmets. Studies have proven the benefits in reducing risk of traumatic brain injury for decades. In fact, helmets can reduce TBI by as much as 85%. So why has Quebec lagged behind the rest of Canada? And why is Quebec’s largest bike lobby against such a move?

Cote Saint-Luc was the first city in Canada to bring in a bylaw nearly 30 years ago! Indeed, this was one of my major planks when I first ran for council and I take immense pride in this bylaw, adopted in 1992.

You can read all about the background on bike laws in Canada and the Cote Saint-Luc initiative by searching in this blog.

Do you wear a bike helmet?

Here’s the MUHC press release:

“All cyclists, regardless of their age, face the risk of head injury, traumatic brain injury or concussion. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injuries by up to 85 percent, and the risk of fatality by up to 44 percent” 
Michel Abouassaly, MUHC Coordinator of the Department of Adult Neurotraumatology.

Mandatory helmets for cyclists must apply to children and adults

MONTREAL, September 19, 2019 – The team of the Department of Adult Neurotraumatology at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC) supports their colleague at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Dr. Hussein Wissanji, who in an open letter, demanded, among other things, that helmets be worn for cyclists aged 18 years and under to reduce deaths and health complications associated with traumatic brain injury.  He also called for the need to promote safe riding habits and road developments that are adapted for cyclists.

Furthermore, the Adult Neurotraumatology team strongly recommends that helmet protection apply to cyclists of all ages.

Given the current proliferation of alternative modes of transport these days (bike-sharing, scooters, electric bicycles), the wearing of bicycle helmets for all is necessary in order to ensure the health and the safety of users.

“All cyclists, regardless of their age, face the risk of head injury, traumatic brain injury or concussion. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injuries by up to 85 percent, and the risk of fatality by up to 44 percent,” says Michel Abouassaly, MUHC Coordinator of the Department of Adult Neurotraumatology.

Dr. Jehane Dagher, physiatrist at the Traumatic Brain Injury Centre at the Montreal General Hospital, conducted a study from 2011 to 2016 among 144 patients admitted to the Emergency Department, for head injuries related to cycling. “During this time we noticed up to six times longer ICU stays for patients who did not wear a helmet as well as a higher rate of mortality for these patients.”

Dr. Judith Marcoux, neurosurgeon and Medical Director of Neurotrauma at the MUHC, added, “Four out of five head injuries could be avoided if each cyclist wore a helmet, regardless of their age. It is imperative that adults lead the way by wearing a helmet.”

About the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is one of the world’s foremost academic health facilities. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of its founding hospitals, the MUHC provides exceptional multidisciplinary patient-centric care. Affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University and at the helm of the RUIS-McGill, the MUHC continues to shape the course of adult and pediatric medicine by attracting clinical and research expertise from around the world, assessing the latest in medical technology, and training the next generation of medical professionals. In collaboration with our network partners, we are building a better future for our patients and their families; for our employees, professionals, researchers and students; for our community and above all, for life.

CSL allows cyclists on underpass sidewalks

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Free Press. May 27, 2014.  Click to enlarge.

Free Press. May 27, 2014. Click to enlarge.

CSL recognizes long serving veterans of EMS


It was a great honour for me to be included among those recognized last night for their many years of service in building the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services. CSL EMS turns 50 years old this year.  The recognition event and graduation of the current class of new medics took place amid pomp and ceremony Monday night at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall.medal-003s

The Governor General’s EMS Exemplary Service Medal was presented by Mayor Anthony Housefather, Public Safety Councillor Sam Goldbloom and Director (and long time volunteer himself) Jordy Reichson to eight veterans following more than 20 years of dedicated service.

The Exemplary Service Medal, which was established in 1994 as part of the Canadian Honours System, recognizes individuals with at least 20 years of service in Emergency Medical Services and a strong commitment to exceptional performance.

I started at what used to be called EMO (Emergency Measures Organization) immediately after high school back in 1979. These were the years prior to First Responders and a coordinated ambulance service in Montreal. Residents would telephone directly to EMO and we would respond in our small fire-rescue truck, known as RMF-11 (Rescue, Medical, Fire).

Cote Saint-Luc EMO launched my side-career as an Urgences-Santé ambulance technician in 1980

Cote Saint-Luc EMO launched my side-career as an Urgences-Santé ambulance technician in 1980

Glenn J. Nashen on duty with Urgences Santé and Jeff Silver (in brown coveralls) with EMO

Glenn J. Nashen on duty with Urgences Santé and Jeff Silver (in brown coveralls) with EMO

Our first responder service was launched a few years later and I spent the next 20 years in active duty as a volunteer.

Shortly after being first elected in 1990, Councillor Ruth Kovac and I set off to form the EMO Review Committee and proposed upgrading the service to a full city service with a paid director, round the clock coverage, in-house training of our volunteer medics and widespread training of our residents, staff and visitors in CPR.

My EMO involvement also led to 5 years of volunteer service on the Canadian Ski Patrol.  I rose to the level of Assistant Patrol Leader at Mont Alta in Ste-Agathe.

My EMO involvement also led to 5 years of volunteer service on the Canadian Ski Patrol. I rose to the level of Assistant Patrol Leader at Mont Alta in Ste-Agathe.

In total I have been involved in our Emergency Medical services and every aspect of Public Safety for 35 years, well over half of my life!

Receiving the Governor General's medal from Cllr. Sam Goldbloom, Mayor Anthony Housefather and Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson

Receiving the Governor General’s medal from Cllr. Sam Goldbloom, Mayor Anthony Housefather and Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson

Additionally I served 18 years as an Emergency Medical Technician with Urgences Santé, five years on the Canadian Ski Patrol, and founded and spent countless hours with the CSL volunteer Citizens on Patrol group. My involvement doesn’t stop there having overseen Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on City Council since 1990.

I am very proud to have championed the first municipal bylaw requiring bike helmets in Canada and spending the last three decades advocating for mandatory helmet requirements for cyclists. It is with passion for caring for the injured, sick and needy that I  have promoted the legal recognition of Paramedics in pre-hospital emergency medical care in Quebec.

Proud to be among many deserving veterans of EMS including Patti-Bath Lietman, Hal Newman, Rick Liebmann

Proud to be among many deserving veterans of EMS including Patti-Bath Leitman, Hal Newman and Rick Liebmann

There are so many highlights in my years in EMS. I have performed CPR more than 125 times and successfully revived one in four patients. One of my most memorable occasions serving on Montreal ambulances was my first and only delivery of a baby boy in his mother’s house, which permitted me to proudly wear a tiny blue stork pin on my uniform.

Riding aboard Cote Saint-Luc's first Rescue Medical Fire vehicle RMF-11, 1981

Riding aboard Cote Saint-Luc’s first Rescue Medical Fire vehicle RMF-11 in 1981

I remember with pride serving CSL EMO in a historical torrential downpour in 1987 that closed our underpasses stranding thousands of residents and spending fifteen straight days overseeing emergency services and communications during the 1998 Ice Storm.

Glenn J. Nashen on duty with Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization, 1981

Glenn J. Nashen on duty with Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization, 1981

Of major importance was my involvement, seven years ago, alongside Mayor Housefather, Councillor Kovac and MNA Lawrence Bergman in solidifying community support for EMS and the adoption of a special law in the National Assembly to allow our city to keep EMS as the First Responder service when the Montreal Fire Department took over this mandate everywhere else on the island.

Saving EMS at the Quebec National Assembly

Saving EMS at the Quebec National Assembly in 2007

Thank you to Mayor Housefather for his confidence in appointing me to my public safety and emergency preparedness positions for the last ten years and to Jordy Reichson for his collaboration and dedication to serving our community.

Councillor Glenn J. Nashen on duty with vCOP

Councillor Glenn J. Nashen on duty with vCOP

This has been a most rewarding, inspiring and epic journey for me, and for the thousands of volunteers who have crossed through the doors at Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services. Thank you to all those who have been involved in EMS for this great honour and immense privilege to serve.


Helmets for all – Les casques pour tous

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Bike helmets are a must for all ages

Bike helmets are a must for all ages

I continue petitioning the Quebec government to require helmets for cyclists as has been the case in Côte Saint-Luc since I introduced the first municipal legislation in Canada in 1992. Be sure to let your MNA know that you support provincial legislation for bike helmets.

There is an 80 percent risk reduction in traumatic brain injury for a helmeted cyclist.

And why not for skiers too? With odds like that how can you say no? Wishing you a safe and enjoyable outing.

Bike helmet law in CSL, CTV News 1991

CSL asks Quebec to pass bylaw

Helmet legislation is long overdue


Je continue de demander au gouvernement du Québec d’exiger le port du casque pour les cyclistes, comme c’est le cas à Côte Saint-Luc depuis que j’ai introduit la première loi en ce sens au Canada en 1992. Assurez-vous d’informer votre député que vous appuyez une loi provinciale applicables aux casques .

Un cycliste qui porte un casque protecteur a 80 pour cent moins de risque de subir un traumatisme crânien.

Et pourquoi pas aussi pour les skieurs ? Comment ne pas être d’accord avec des statistiques comme celles là ? Je vous souhaite un promenade agréable en toute sécurité.

Le porte obligatoire des casques



CSL’s little known bylaws

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by Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

October 17, 2012

Some of Côte St. Luc’s strict bylaws are very well known to residents, such as its law requiring cyclists to wear bicycle helmets, its laws banning smoking in various public places and its overnight parking prohibitions.

Some aspects of Côte St. Luc’s noise bylaw are also well-known, particularly times when contractors can operate their machinery to do garden work. Work can begin 7 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends and statutory holidays, and must end 9 p.m. weekends, weekdays and statutory holidays.

Less known is that “you cannot make loud noises such as excessively honking your horn, blaring loud music or using any other sound reproduction device to do so,” according to the city’s website. Loud music emanating from cars, especially bass-heavy rap music, is a common aural experience on streets like Ste. Catherine West.

Most parking bylaws are obvious, such as prohibitions against parking near fire hydrants, during designated hours as indicated on signs and in designated handicap spots.

But less known to the general public is that “you cannot park a trailer or truck anywhere in Côte St. Luc except for loading or unloading purposes,” says the website.

As mentioned above, the city’s helmet law for cyclists is well known, but it also applies to all ages, and also for those using in-line skates and roller blades “on any street, sidewalk, lane or any public place in Côte St. Luc.”

A couple of years ago, there was a big debate regarding Dollard des Ormeaux’s restrictions on the playing of street hockey. In Côte St. Luc, permission must be sought from the city before sports items such as basketball and hockey nets are placed in public areas such as streets and sidewalks.

Côte St. Luc also has bylaws that ensure private properties remain clean and safe. “The owner of land, whether built or not, may not allow branches, bushes and long weeds to grow thereon, or to leave scrap iron, rubbish, refuse, paper or empty bottles or materials or any objects that might be a hazard to health and safety,” says the website.

“You cannot tolerate on your land, shallow areas gathering stagnant water, open ditches, large boulders, mounds of earth or any conditions that may cause directly or indirectly bodily harm to any person or persons.”

A few years ago, The Suburban published a story in which some residents objected to a law against feeding wild animals within the city limits. It remains prohibited to feed pigeons, squirrels and other non-domesticated animals.

Not only that, residents can’t keep wild farm animals or poultry on their land as possible pets.

And while Montreal is rethinking its law banning, for the most part, street vendors selling food, in Côte St. Luc, “all street vendors require a license from the municipality prior to carrying out their tasks.

Cyclists without helmets three times more likely to die of head injuries

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October 15, 2012
Wendy Gillis
Staff Reporter

Cyclists who ride a bike without a helmet are three times more likely to die of a head injury than those who wear the protective headwear, a Toronto researcher probing cycling deaths in Ontario has concluded.

In a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, University of Toronto family doctor lecturer and St Michael’s Hospital associate scientist Navindra Persaud concludes that helmets help prevent fatalities — something he says until now was “controversial.”

He hopes the study will eliminate the thinking that helmets are not useful in serious collisions.

“Previous studies have demonstrated that helmets prevent non-fatal head injuries,” he said. “But this is the first study to demonstrate that helmets prevent fatal head injuries.”

“The conclusion was that bicycle helmets save lives,” he said.

The conclusions are based on data from the Ontario coroner’s report into the 129 accidental cycling deaths that took place in the province between January 2006 and December 2010.

Among the fatalities, 86 per cent were men and 77 per cent involved a motor vehicle. The ages of those killed ranged from 10 to 83.

Persaud and fellow researchers separated deaths due to head injuries and deaths due to other injuries (such as the abdomen or chest). For each group, they determined what fraction of those people were wearing helmets and which were not.

They found that a cyclist not wearing a helmet was three times more likely to die of a head injury than a cyclist wearing a helmet. The results stood up whether or not the cyclist had sustained other serious injuries.

Persaud hopes the study will stimulate policy changes that promote helmet use, including awareness campaigns and financial incentives, such as giving away free helmets.

He also hopes that Ontario will extend its mandatory helmet law to adults; currently, the province only forces cyclists 18 and under to wear a helmet.

“That 88 per cent of (those who died) in our study were older than 18 . . . suggests a gap in public policy,” the research paper concludes.

Mandatory helmet legislation was a key recommendation of the province’s coroner’s June report into the same 129 cycling deaths.

Jared Kolb, director of marketing at Cycle Toronto, an organization which advocates for cycling rights, said the group supports Ontario’s requirement that cyclists under 18 wear helmets.

It encourages adults do the same, but stops short at calling for mandatory helmet legislation. The problem with mandatory helmet laws, he said, is that they can discourage people from riding altogether.

“For us, the most important thing is creating safe cycling infrastructure,” such as bike lanes, he said.

Persaud agrees that improvements to cycling infrastructure in the province must be made, but says they should be made in tandem with increased helmet use.

“Even if we had a perfect infrastructure, there are still going to be collisions and falls, and that’s why helmets would be useful,” he said.

He adds that while wearing a helmet might seem inconvenient right now, so did other safety initiatives that have become common practice, like wearing sunscreen.

“Over time, it’s changed and hopefully this will be part of that,” he said.

In provinces with mandatory helmet laws, such as Nova Scotia, wearing helmets is more common, according to the paper.

The study also cites Victoria, Australia as an example of successful legislation. Helmet use in the city increased from 31 per cent to 75 per cent after the introduction of mandatory helmet legislation, and cycling fatalities decreased by 48 per cent.

Cycling death figures

Total number of cycling deaths in Ontario between January 2006 and December 2010: 129

Ages of those killed: 10 to 83

Total number of those not wearing a helmet: 94 of 129

Number who died of head injuries: 71

Number of head injury deaths where cyclist was not wearing a helmet: 58 (of the 71)


In my opinion:  

I’ve said it a thousand times.  I’ll say it again.  Quebec, too, should heed the warning from this latest study and enact province-wide helmet legislation for all ages.  Lives will be saved.  Injuries will be prevented or diminished. 

Locally, Cote Saint-Luc is a national leader in helmet legislation – the first city in Canada to do so 20 years ago.  

Today, we are expanding our fledgling “CSL Cycles” initiative by encouraging cycling, off-road, through our largest parks, on marked bike lanes where possible and by alerting motorists to our bike routes.  We must still create a safer environment for the underpasses.  Those lanes aren’t wide enough for protected bike lanes and therefore we have exceptionally granted permission to using the sidewalks at these locations.


Cote St. Luc set to consider bicycle helmets for all

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CSL set to consider mandatory bicycle helmets for all, Suburban 1997-09-24

Bike Helmets in Cote Saint-Luc – 1991 CTV News

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1991 CTV News report about Cote Saint-Luc’s new bike helmet law – the first municipal bike helmet legislation in Canada. This was a major goal of mine when first elected and moving this resolution remains one of my prime accomplishments.