Road-safety and accident-prevention groups predicted that the private member’s
bill to allow adults not to wear safety helmets while biking within urban areas
– which was approved by the Knesset late Wednesday night, before the MKs began
their recess – would cause needless deaths and serious injuries.RELATED:Knesset could spike bill requiring cyclists wear helmets Volunteer organization fights to save bicycle helmet law
and teens will continue to be required to wear protective gear everywhere, but
adults only on inter-city roads.
The law, approved last month by the
Knesset Economics Committee, had been initiated by Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich,
who took the side of amateur biking enthusiasts and commercial interests renting
out bicycles in Tel Aviv and other areas who thought carrying helmets to and fro
would be bad for business. MKs Rachel Adatto, Ophir Akunis and Hamad Amar fought
against the amendment.
The law will go into effect when it is published
in Reshumot, the official gazette.
The advocates of the amendment
maintained that adult bikers should be able to decide for themselves whether to
wear protective helmets in the city or not.
They argued that during the
four years since passage of the original law requiring the wearing of helmets
when cycling, National Road Safety Authority statistics showed that the wearing
of helmets declined, with only 19 percent wearing them. But at the same time,
the advocates said, road accidents involving bicycle riders actually
Those against requiring helmets for adults in cities, led by
Yotam Avizohar – director of the voluntary organization Israel For Bicycling,
said the amendment was necessary to increase bike riding to and from work,
reduce city traffic and cut air pollution. Helmets, he argued, would deter
For this reason, the amendment was also supported by
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.
Bicycle riders said that ways can
be made to increase safety with separate bicycle paths that do not get close to
cars, trucks and buses.
Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and
Health, urged the adult bicycle- riding public to wear helmets at all times when
riding despite the new law, and to make sure that their children do so as well.