(photo credit: Shai Giterman)
Adults will probably be exempt from wearing bicycle helmets while riding on
urban roads and bike paths after the Knesset Economics committee on Wednesday
sent a bill to that effect for a second and third reading.
headed by MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen, voted down a request by MKs Rachel Adatto,
Ophir Akunis and Hamad Amer to keep the existing law requiring everyone on
wheels to wear protective helmets, whether in urban or interurban
The initiator of the bill, MK Sheli Yacimovich, together with
fellow MKs Dov Henin, Muhammad Barakei, Hanna Sweid and Afo Agbaria, were
allegedly persuaded by companies that rent out bicycles in Tel Aviv – and by
amateur cyclists – to forgo the national requirement for helmets to be worn in
Some cyclists prefer to do without helmets in town, saying
they are a nuisance to carry around – and also mess up hairstyles. Companies
that rent out bikes were concerned they would lose customers who didn’t want to
carry helmets to work and elsewhere.
The MKs presented their bill in
It raised the ire of Beterem, the National Council for Child
Safety and Health, and senior public health experts, who argued that
Yacimovich’s bill would cost many lives. They stressed that wearing bicycle
helmets had been proven both in Israel and abroad to reduce the loss of life and
serious injuries that occur in bicycle and other two-wheeled-vehicle
Shama-Hacohen argued on Wednesday that bicycle riding “should
be encouraged for its health benefits, for the reduction in air pollution and
the easing of traffic and parking problems.”
Amer reacted by saying it
was crucial for bike riders to wear helmets at all times, wherever their
“I cannot visualize a situation in which a father – who must
serve as an example to his children – won’t wear a helmet, but his child will,”
Amer said. “In 2010, 17 people died while riding bicycles without a helmet that
could have saved their lives. Falling off a bike can be fatal. Discussion of the
Yacimovich bill must therefore be reopened.”
At the end of Wednesday’s
debate, six MKs voted in favor of Yacimovich’s bill, while only two – Amer and
MK Yariv Levin – opposed it.
Safety helmets are the only means of
protecting the head in an accident.
Beterem declared it was very
disappointed by the Economics Committee’s decision. The safety organization said
there had been a significant increase in the number of bike riders in recent
years; by amending the law requiring the wearing of helmets by riders of all
ages and in every location, “we are liable to see an increase in head injuries
and deaths” among these riders.
“We call on bike riders of all ages to
wear safety helmets at all times and in all places, both for their own safety
and to serve as a good example to their children,” Beterem said.