Focus on helmets

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Letter to the Editor, Montreal Gazette

Re: Deaths of two cyclists in Montreal refocus attention on road safety, Aug. 13, 2011

City planners ponder the design of bike lanes, police hand out tickets to cyclists plugged into their music and crash investigators examine yet another two cycling deaths last week in Montreal. Yet, where is the call for a province wide law requiring cyclists to wear helmets?

Helmets substantially reduce injury and prevent death in as many as 80% of cycling accidents. With statistics like that, the real focus ought to be clear as daylight to the police, city hall and the Quebec government.

Glenn J. Nashen

***

Letter to the Editor, Montreal Gazette

re: Commentary, It’s time for mandatory bike helmets, Aug. 17, 2011

Re: It’s time for mandatory bike helmets, Aug. 16, 2011

Dr. Debbie Friedman’s call for mandatory bike helmet legislation should serve as a reminder to Quebec legislators that helmets save lives and endless political debate is a disservice to all.

The City of Cote Saint-Luc became the first municipality in Canada to adopt a mandatory bike helmet bylaw back in 1991 yet without provincial legislation police have been reluctant to enforce. Helmets substantially reduce injury and prevent death in as many as 80% of cycling accidents. This would result in lower healthcare costs for all taxpayers.

After years of debate, study and draft bills, the Quebec government should follow the lead of our city and several Canadian provinces in making bike helmets mandatory.

Glenn J. Nashen

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“Velo CSL Cycles” bike initiative is launched

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The City of Côte Saint-Luc has designated a bicycle route along an 10-kilometer route in the northern half of the city, as part of an initiative to encourage residents to stay active.

I have advocated for a cycling plan for our City for quite some time and in June 2008 I submitted a detailed plan entitled CSL Cycles and am very pleased that we have finally launched the first phase of a 5-year plan to make cycling fun and safer in Cote Saint-Luc.  This new route will make motorists more aware of bicyclists and along some stretches will create a reserved bike lane.

The route will form a single direction loop that includes Mackle Rd., Blossom Ave., Wavell Rd., and Marc Chagall Ave., and some additional roads. It will also cut right through Pierre Elliot Trudeau Park and Shuster Park. No parking spaces will be lost to the new bicycle route. About 115 chevrons have been painted at 100 meter internals on the road surface to warn motorists to look out for bicyclists. On some stretches of the route, there will be parallel lines to mark the reserved bicycle lane.

The bicycle path is part of the “Vélo CSL Cycles”, a phrase that I coined as a bicycling promotion and safety initiative. In addition to encouraging bicyclists to use the new bicycle route, the city will also be making it safer for bicyclists to use the three underpasses on Cavendish Blvd., Côte Saint-Luc Rd., and Westminster Ave. The city will post signs to advise bicyclists that they are able to ride on the sidewalk in the underpass, but must yield to and dismount for pedestrians.

 We’re making it safer for cyclists who want to use the sidewalk at the three underpasses.  As the council member responsible for public safety and traffic issues it is important that I stress that cyclists must act responsibly and stop and dismount every time they pass a pedestrian. And, without a doubt, all cyclists must wear a helmet.

CSL became the first city in all of Canada to legislate the wearing of bike helmets when I moved this resolution in 1991.  Studies show that 80% of head injuries can be prevented or reduced by wearing an approved helmet.

The next phases of the Velo CSL Cycles plan will call for designated bike lanes on Cavendish to connect with the NDG/Montreal routes that already connect to the De Maisonneuve lane toward downtown as well as the Lachine Canal bike path.  I have also pitched ideas including connecting Westminster in CSL and Montreal West to the Lachine Canal, creating bike paths through the city lanes on the northern strip of the city near Mather and behind some schools and homes such as the school near Blossom and behind the homes on Holland where the Hydro dirt road connects to the Cavendish overpass. We should also create on-street routes in Districts 4 and 5 on the southern portion of CSL and eventually build a pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting the area behind Bialik to Hampstead and the Parkhaven area to the CSL Shopping Centre.

I’d also like to thank Charles Senekal, Manager of the Engineering Department, and Mohammed Ali, Engineer, for their commitment and interest in handling this project with the utmost of professionalism.

For a map of the bicycle path and more information about the bicycling promotion and safety initiative, visit www.CoteSaintLuc.org/en/cslcycles.

En francais:  http://www.cotesaintluc.org/fr/velocsl

Helmet legislation is long overdue

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Letters to the editor, Montreal Gazette (Published July 18, 2010)

Velo-Quebec is on the right path promoting a healthy, active lifestyle through cycling for leisure, for work, for life. Sure, we need to work on motorists’ attitudes in sharing the road, designing bike-friendly streets and lowering speed limits. These are good long-term strategies for a healthy and cycling-friendly society.

However, it is counter-intuitive for Velo-Quebec to oppose mandatory helmet laws because bicycle accidents occur every day and those who do not wear helmets are far likelier to sustain serious head injuries than those who do. In fact, serious head trauma and brain injury is reduced by 80% by wearing a helmet.

Helmet legislation across Quebec is long overdue.

Glenn J. Nashen
City Councillor responsible for Public Safety
Cote Saint-Luc

Most Quebec cyclists don’t wear helmets

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Most Quebec cyclists don’t wear helmets

No Law Here; 59% forgo headgear compared with 46% nationally

By CHLOE FEDIO, The Gazette, June 16, 2010

More than half of the population of Quebec say they are avid cyclists, but a Statistics Canada survey reveals that the majority of those do not wear helmets when on a bike.

The 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey, made public yesterday, suggests 59 per cent of Quebecers over age 12 never wear a helmet when riding a bike, compared with the national average of 46 per cent.

Cyclists in provinces without bicycle helmet legislation, like Quebec, are less likely to use them, said Amanda Elliott, an analyst for Statistics Canada. Helmet use, according to the survey, was highest in Nova Scotia (66 per cent), the province with the strictest helmet law. Despite this, Suzanne Lareau, president of Velo-Quebec, said that number is proof that helmet laws are ineffective.

“It’s startling that in provinces that hand out fines for not wearing helmets, we’re not seeing 80 or 90 per cent of people wearing helmets. It seems like the laws are not working,” she said.

The Quebec government’s proposal to amend the Road Safety Code in the province to make helmets mandatory for children 12 and younger was frozen at the end of the session and is expected to return in the fall. There are no helmet regulations in Montreal, but they are mandatory for all ages in the city of Westmount and the municipality of CoteSt. Luc.

Lareau said wearing a helmet is a personal choice and that fining those who don’t wear a one might dissuade people from using an environmentally friendly method of transportation.

“We’re not against wearing helmets but we are against a law,” Lareau said. “We’re against the idea of penalizing people for riding their bikes, for doing physical activity. These are people who are using a transportation method that’s good for the environment, that’s good for their health.”

Patrick Morency, a public health specialist in Montreal’s health and social services department, said that while helmets can help prevent injury, a more comprehensive road safety strategy is necessary to reduce the number of injured cyclists.

“What’s killing cyclists in Montreal or seriously injuring them is vehicles -and the bigger the vehicle, the worse the injury,” Morency said. “Generally, cyclists that are killed are either hit at a high speed or by a large vehicle – and in those cases a helmet might not help much.”

Lareau said that better cooperation between cyclists and motorists is the key to preventing accidents.

“What does wearing a helmet actually do? It might reduce the chance of injury in case of an accident, but it doesn’t prevent accidents,” Lareau said. “We need to work on strategies to improve bike safety, like lowering speed limits in the city and sharing the road. That would be more effective than implementing a helmet law and then saying, ‘My job is done.’ ”

cfedio@thegazette.canwest.com

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

To read about my efforts to enact mandatory helmet laws type HELMET in the search window.  Do you agree that helmet laws are needed in Quebec?  Post your comment here.

Read about this in today’s La Presse

Annual Côte Saint-Luc Spring Fair on Sunday, May 16

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Annual Côte Saint-Luc Spring Fair on Sunday, May 16

The third annual Côte Saint-Luc Spring Fair will take place on Sunday, May 16 from 10am to 3pm at and around Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park on Mackle Rd.

The Spring Fair includes the Mega Garage Sale, Public Safety Day, the Public Works Carnival, and Eco-Action Day.

“The Spring Fair has quickly become an annual tradition in Côte Saint-Luc,” Mayor Anthony Housefather said. “You can buy interesting items from vendors at the community garage sale, have your car seat inspected for free, have your kids play in the inflatable tree house or do arts and crafts. This is a kid-friendly event with plenty of stuff to keep people entertained for an hour or two.”

The Mega Garage Sale takes place at the covered Confederation Annex building at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park and features people selling items at 60 tables.

Come out to meet the people behind Public Safety in Cote Saint-Luc

Public Safety Day takes place at the parking lot of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park and features emergency vehicles for kids to climb into. Kids and adults will also be able to speak to police officers, fire fighters, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) lifesavers, and other members of the safety services. The Montreal police will verify car seat installations and bicycle helmets. Also, the blood service agency Héma Quebec will have a booth for people to check their blood type.

Bring your kids to check out Cote Saint-Luc's fleet of emergency vehicles

The Public Works Carnival takes place next to the Public Works Building (7001 Mackle Rd.) and features barbecue food, inflatable games for kids, arts and crafts, and more. Donations will be accepted for the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Meet the First Responder medics who may have already saved the life of someone you know!

EcoAction Day takes place next to the Public Works Building. Visitors will learn about recycling and curb-side compost collection, and receive free garden compost. Kids will learn about composting and how to make a zero-waste lunch.

We're waiting to meet you at Public Safety Day!!!

No farm animals allowed: CSL

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No farm animals allowed: CSL

Many municipalities have little-known bylaws

By Joel Goldenberg

The Suburban

March 3, 2010

Côte St. Luc has many well-known and publicized bylaws – perhaps its most famous are its overnight parking prohibition between 3 and 6 a.m., its pioneering requirement for bicyclists to wear helmets and also innovative ban on smoking in public places, well before Quebec made the latter province-wide law.

Other bylaws are obvious and by no means unique – putting out garbage at the correct time, keeping your dog leashed and out of parks, and no unauthorized parking in handicap zones.

But others are less obvious. Côte St. Luc’s website lists many of them. In that city, you can’t:

1. “Keep live farm animals or fowl on your land,” so do not expect to find any live cows, chickens or turkeys in local backyards and homes. There have been no such incidences in Côte St. Luc, The Suburban has been told, at least in recent years.

2. “Park a trailer, truck anywhere except for loading or unloading purposes.” However, in neighbouring Hampstead, one can frequently find trucks and trailers parked on Glenmore, at a home where the filming of major motion pictures has taken place over the years, to the annoyance of some residents.

3. “Put more than a total of six receptacles or plastic bags outside a building for garbage collection.” In this case, a major spring cleaning should take place over time.

4 “Make loud noises such as excessively honking your horn, blaring loud music or using any other sound reproduction device to do so.” So no bass-heavy rap music on Côte St. Luc streets.

5. “Feed pigeons, squirrels and other wild animals or poultry.” Bylaw #1 should take care of much of that issue.

In Hampstead, one otherwise little known bylaw has been gaining more prominence at monthly council meetings, the prohibition against speaking from the floor except during question period. Thanks to frequent violations by some council regulars and Mayor William Steinberg ordering a ticket issued during a council meeting – the order was later withdrawn and switched to a warning – that bylaw has been well publicized.

Other interesting bylaws also relate to decorum at council meetings. An attendee can be expelled if he or she is verbally disruptive, but also disruptive from a motion perspective. Thus, technically, attendees can be ordered to leave if they “wander away from the topic under discussion” or “move about between the council table and the public.”

The decorum bylaw also applies to reporters or residents who want to record meetings for their own library. For instance, “the use of a mechanical or electronic voice recording device is authorized during town council meetings on the condition that the equipment is used silently and without in any way disturbing the proceedings. The recording device must remain in the user’s physical possession.” This might indicate that a reporter or resident cannot leave his or her recorder running in the council chamber while taking a bathroom break.

Back in 2005, The Suburban reported that another Hampstead council meeting-related bylaw says that only council members “and officers assisting them, may be filmed or photographed by means of a still, video or television camera or any other device for recording images, and only during question period, may the people asking the questions of the council members also be photographed or filmed.” However, The Suburban was assured it would not be prosecuted if it took a picture of an audience member, for example, disrupting the meeting from the floor. Also, no action was taken during the fractious 2009 election campaign when some council meetings were filmed by a supporter of mayoral candidate and former councillor David Sternthal.

Another aspect of the decorum bylaw, the prohibition against “shouting, heckling, singing, making noise or any other gesture likely to negatively impact the proceedings.” Pretty much every one of these has been violated in the last few years – except for the singing.

On the other hand, Hampstead is not unique in designating a maximum of 30 minutes for their question period. However, not too many area municipalities follow that rule to the letter. Two Hampstead question periods at one meeting lasted a total four hours, ironically after an unsuccessful attempt to actually restrict the time to 30 minutes because of lengthy question periods at previous meetings.

In Montreal West, a recently posted 2008 bylaw decrees if a resident has more than two dogs or four cats, he or she “shall be considered to be operating a kennel or shelter.” The bylaw also says kennels and shelters are not allowed in the town’s residential zone. A permit must be obtained to open a kennel or shelter altogether.

However, there is one exception to the dog and cat limit rule. “In the event that a female dog or cat gives birth to a litter of puppies or kittens, [they] may be kept by the owner for a period not exceeding three months.”

As they say, ignorance is no excuse. Read your municipality’s bylaws.

Vélo: la ministre pour le port obligatoire du casque chez les jeunes

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Vélo: la ministre pour le port obligatoire du casque chez les jeunes

Tommy Chouinard

La Presse

le 02 décembre 2009

La ministre des Transports, Julie Boulet, veut obliger les jeunes de 12 ans et moins à porter un casque à vélo, à partir de 2011 au plus tôt. Divisée sur la question, la Table québécoise de la sécurité routière n’a pas recommandé cette mesure dans son rapport rendu public lundi.

Vélo Québec, qui a quitté la Table avec fracas, condamne les intentions de la ministre Boulet.

Lundi, lors d’une conférence de presse monopolisée par la baisse du taux d’alcoolémie permis de 0,08 à 0,05, Mme Boulet a indiqué que son projet de loi attendu cette semaine comprendra un pouvoir réglementaire permettant au gouvernement d’obliger le port du casque chez les 12 ans et moins au moment jugé opportun.

L’an prochain, la ministre lancera une campagne de sensibilisation sur la sécurité à vélo. En 2011, «on verra si on a évolué dans le nombre de personnes qui portent le casque et, s’il le faut, avec le pouvoir réglementaire, on ira plus loin», a-t-elle dit.

Julie Boulet a déjà l’intention d’aller «plus loin». Son plaidoyer est prêt. «Les blessures à la tête causent 60% des décès chez les cyclistes. L’Ontario, l’Alberta et le Manitoba ont déjà légiféré là-dessus depuis plus de 10 ans, même 15 ans, pour les moins de 18 ans. En Colombie-Britannique, en Nouvelle-Écosse et au Nouveau-Brunswick, c’est une obligation de porter le casque pour tous.»

Dans son rapport, la Table québécoise de la sécurité routière ne recommande pas le port obligatoire du casque. C’est faute de consensus au sein du groupe sur cette question, a confirmé son président, Jean-Marie De Koninck.

La Presse avait déjà révélé en octobre les intentions de la ministre. Vélo Québec avait aussi quitté la Table.

Il y a trois semaines, son directeur général, Jean-François Pronovost, a rencontré Julie Boulet, qui lui a confirmé ses intentions. Il s’étonne de la décision de la ministre qui ne s’appuie sur aucune recommandation de la Table.

«Ce n’est pas qu’on est défavorable au casque, a expliqué M. Pronovost. Mais obliger le port du casque, ce n’est pas la façon de faire. Il va y avoir une baisse de l’usage du vélo. Ce sera encore plus difficile de faire bouger les enfants.»

Selon lui, «c’est un règlement qui serait inapplicable. Les policiers n’ont pas le temps de s’occuper de ça».

 

In my opinion:  I have advocated for mandatory wearing of bike helmets since first elected in 1990 and I introduced what became the first such municipal bylaw in Canada.  Quebec should proceed with legislation.  It will save lives. Read more about Cote Saint-Luc’s helmet position by searching “helmet” in this blog.

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