Road safety advocate Mordechai Feder warned on Wednesday that amending a law
requiring adult cyclists to wear helmets, will put lives at risk. Feder issued
the warning in light of a Knesset initiative aiming to do just
According to Feder, who is the chairman of Metuna, a volunteer road
safety organization, exempting adult urban bikers from wearing helmets will not
only cause lives to be lost but will also set a bad example for
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Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich and Hadash MK Dov Henin are
sponsoring the proposed change.
Feder said the legislation was motivated
by a desire to facilitate plans by private companies to rent bikes in Tel Aviv,
an initiative that he said is supported by Mayor Ron Huldai. The bill has
received support from the government and many MKs, including Science and
Technology Committee chairman Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) and Uri Maklev (United
Torah Judaism). Knesset Economics Committee chairman Carmel Shamah-Hacohen
(Likud) also voted for the new proposal when it was approved for its second and
third (final) readings, subject to another session for debate.
advocates of retaining the current, tougher, law are Kadima MK Rachel Adatto and
Israel Beiteinu MK Hamad Amar.
Advocates of the bill say relaxing the
requirement will encourage more people to use bicycles.
concerns that these drawbacks will harm bike rental initiatives, which are
touted for their potential to reduce urban congestion and
Health Ministry chief statistician Dr. Gary Ginsberg predicted
that if the current law is changed, the impact on adult urban bicyclists would
be disastrous. He told the Knesset Economics Committee recently that by 2014,
there would be 18 more deaths, more than 2,000 more hospitalizations, 6,334 more
emergency room visits, 19,383 more ambulatory visits to general practitioners,
297 additional rehabilitation efforts and 36 lifelong disabilities if the bill
The cost in medical expenses is estimated at NIS 210
Metuna says that efforts can be made to have the existing law
enforced and that there is no contradiction between bicycle rental initiatives
and the requirement to wear helmets.
The Finance Ministry has neither
voiced its concern about the anticipated additional deaths nor indicated its
opposition to the proposed bill due to additional health and rehabilitation