Religious People Don’t Need Helmets, Right?

Manitoba’s Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau just introduced some very sensible legislation. Bill 37 would make it illegal for children under the age of 18 to ride a bike (even as a passenger) without a helmet.

If you’re caught without a helmet, you could be fined for up to $50 (or face an alternative punishment to be decided later).

On the whole, though, it makes sense and there’s good reason for requiring it:

From 2005 to 2009, 374 children were hospitalized for cycling-related injuries in Manitoba, according to the province. Fifty-four were hospitalized for cycling-related head injuries.

The province, until now, has resisted calls for a mandatory bike helmet law. The NDP government has instead favoured educational programs that encourage helmet use. It also subsidized the cost of more than 73,000 helmets to Manitoba families through its Low Cost Bike Helmet Initiative.

“Unfortunately, recent studies show that many children and youth are still not wearing helmets,” Rondeau said in a press release today accompanying the legislation.

There’s a case to be made that the new law should also apply to adults (much like seat-belt legislation). And some are complaining the government is pushing itself into an area in which it doesn’t belong (“If I don’t want to wear a helmet, you can’t make me!”)… but there’s another problem with this bill that hasn’t gotten any significant pushback:

There will also be some exemptions to the new law, such as on religious grounds.

What?! Why? What difference does it make what your religion is when it comes to head injury?!

Presumably, this amendment to the bill is meant to accomodate the large local population of Sikhs (who wear turbans). But it still makes no sense. Sikhs are just as likely to crash and injure themselves as everyone else. And a turban won’t break their fall. Neither will god.

A Sikh man on a bike... just because. (via The Langer Hall)

There’s no reason to let them off the hook for a law that’s meant to save their lives.

Incidentally — as if it needed to be said — a group called the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute stated that turbans are not an effective substitute for helmets:

One Canadian test lab tested a Sikh turban for impact characteristics, and found that they probably would not provide much impact protection, certainly not enough to approach the performance of a helmet meeting any of the national or international bicycle helmet standards. Turbans may vary according to regional styles, and can differ considerably in size, shape, density and other characteristics, so it would be difficult to design a helmet to fit over or under them. A turban-shaped helmet is probably not a viable option even if it were acceptable to Sikhs, because the traditional Sikh turban is meticulously wound, and it would be difficult for a turban wearer to remove their turban, ride in the helmet, and rewind the turban after the ride. Winding a turban over a helmet would eliminate ventilation and result in a very large headgear, while still requiring that the normal turban be taken off to ride.

It’s possible the law could be passed without religious exemptions and just not be enforced on Sikhs (at least unofficially), but that would just defeat the purpose of the bill. It’s a bad idea, anyway. This law would be for their own good.

(Thanks to Dorothy for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Will people who refuse to wear a helmet on religious grounds also be paying their own medical bills (rather than using the publicly funded system) on religious grounds should they crack their skulls open?  

  • Michael

    There must be a market for over-turban helmets.

  • John A. Anderson

    When a religious person dies of head trauma, he goes straight to heaven. Of course they shouldn’t wear helmets. They also shouldn’t wear car seat belts and should disable their air bags and cut their brake lines.

  • Lukas

    This is completely besides the point, of course, but there are rational reasons for being against this law. Bike helmet laws cause people to use their bikes less.* Large-scale studies suggest that the benefits of these laws (when an accident happens, fewer and less problematic injuries occur) are outweighed by the harm caused by the laws (people use the car instead of their bike, they move less, which has health costs of its own).

    I think this wouldn’t apply to a law that only applies to children, though I suspect that the age limit should be lower than 18 for optimal results.

    * Wikipedia: “Studies from China, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom show that regular cyclists live longer because the health effects far outweigh the risk of crashes.  A reduction in the number of cyclists is likely to harm the health of the population more than any possible protection from injury.”

  • Joe Zamecki

    Beside the law, the helmets themselves are an issue of modernity. It’s like the Amish not wanting electricity, no matter how important it’s become to safety in daily life.  I think as well,  a bicycle has got to be too new for the Sikhs to embrace, and still be loyal to their primitive past. So right along with not wanting to ever take off their hats, they ought to never want to get onto a bicycle, or anything so advanced and technical. But yet they do, as revealed by that pic and this legal fuss. It’s comical. Whenever you see one of them using a cellphone, PLEASE get a pic of that! lol

  • John

    Wait! 54 kids in 5 years were hospitilized for head related bike injuries. That’s 11 per year in an entire province. That’s a greater than one in a million chance that a specific child will succumb to a bicycle related head injury every year. This law seems a bit much regardless of the stupid religious part of it.

  • Humanistdad

    In Canada, the government pays for medical costs if you have a head injury while riding a bicycle. In other words, if an accident causes an injury a helmet could have prevented, I, and all other Canadian taxpayers, pay an unnecessary expense.

    Further, there is another reason to have helmet laws: wearing a helmet won’t be ‘normal’ until everyone else has to wear one. It may be uncool in the eyes of cyclists to wear a helmet especially among kids.  However, once everyone is required to wear it, it becomes normalized.

    I live in Ontario where we have helmet laws and virtually everyone wears one.  No one (that I know of) considers the helmet to be an imposition even if they did so in the past. The same can be said of helmets in hockey. It’s also similar to the seatbelt laws. Once the law is in place, behaviour generally normalizes and the issue disappears (but the helmets stay!).

  • Ewan

    It’s a bad law. The evidence base on this suggest that laws like this cost lives.

    Besides which, it really should be up to individuals to make their own choices about levels of risk, regardless of whether it’s on religious grounds or simply personal preference – we don’t ban other dangerous activities (like sport or eating at McDonalds) because people might need to use the health service. It’s rather inherent in universal healthcare that you don’t have to qualify for it.

  • Joe Zamecki

    And yes, I wear a helmet when I ride my bicycle. Not only do I ride in traffic for several miles per trip, I look goofy doing so. It’s okay though, the world needs my brains in tact.  After all the accidents I’ve had, no argument makes me feel safer than this $50. piece of Styrofoam and plastic.  Plus the f’n car drivers out there are insane, asleep, or too busy on the phone. Some amount of protection just makes sense. 

  • Denis

    Many Sikhs wear do-rags; they can certainly wear that under a bike helmet. 

  • Denis

     “The evidence base on this suggest that laws like this cost lives” CIT REQ.

  • Annie

    This bill is intended for children.  Half the Sikh population never wears turbans… girls.  Would female children who are Sikh wear helmets?  Also, boys who are Sikh don’t wear turbans (I’m unsure at what age they start, but I think it may be in their teen years).   I don’t understand the reasoning behind the exception.

  • Nthorsen

    Manitoba has a population of over 1.2 million.  54 cycling-related head injuries in 5 years doesn’t seem to justify requiring all riders under 18 to wear a helmet.  That’s less than 15% of the total.

  • Duke York

    This is really going to get the Sikh community upset, isn’t it? You might even say hot under the collar, right?

    I guess you could call this bill a Sikh-heating missive, right?

    I’ve waited nearly 20 years to used that joke. Thank you. Now I can get on with my life.


  • RantBot Grikmeer

     Both the seatbelt law and the bike helmet (and bike lights) are legally mandated in Britain. Seems like they’re hardly enforced though…

  • jdm8

     I’m not Ewan, but a case is made here, and they have links:

    I don’t buy some of the arguments though, complaining that car users should wear helmets too, when the car itself is a huge protective device, a bike rider has nothing in comparison.

    I don’t really get the idea that a helmet requirement discourages riding to a significant degree, they didn’t back that up that I found.

    There’s a lot more, I need to go to work now.

  • Yorkdukeyork

    I agree completely! This law is as draconian and oppressive as anything found in the Third Reich or Stalin’s Russia.

    Likewise, there had been a lot of loose talk about the necessity of so-called “food” or “feeding”in the raising of children. I say let the market decide! Communities which give their children the wrong amount of food, either too much or too little, will die out, resolving the question without impinging on on _anyone’s_ basic rights.

    Who’s with me?

  • Renshia

     Way to go Duke.

  • Patrick Houghton-Brown

    I agree that it should be up to individuals, but if you’re going to make the law then you’ve got to apply it equally.

  • george.w

    The argument that letting Sikh riders take on additional risk might cost taxpayers for their care leads in one short step to banning cheeseburgers.  Noooooo! Not the cheezeburgers!

    Seriously, many people take on additional risk for personal reasons. We’d end banning some sports, possibly bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards, all rock climbing. 

    There are other arguments for the law that are more compelling. The most obvious one is that we’re all morons when it comes to assessing risk and sometimes need to be prompted to take basic steps to protect ourselves. 

    The Sikh are being morons about this. I used to not wear a helmet, and in an active life I’ve had a number of concussions from different activities. Didn’t realize the injury they cause is cumulative until after that last one I found myself severely balance-impaired and with cognitive difficulties. That was about 8 years ago and through extensive physical therapy I have finally recovered my original balance. But I still have problems concentrating and with memory.

    I had all kinds of arguments for why I didn’t need a helmet. Now I realize that I’m an idiot and I wear a goddamn helmet. 

  • Lindsay Smith

     I’m in Ontario too, and I make my 15-year-old son wear his helmet every single time.  I don’t think I’ve seen a helmet on another kid his age (or even most of the younger kids around here) and he feels like a bit of a dork.

    He doesn’t put up a fight, though.  Dude’s extremely intellectually gifted and I just have to ask him how he’d feel going through the rest of his life with a traumatic brain injury. 

  • AntonioPeYangIII

    Let them opt out of wearing helmets based on their religious belief, and let natural selection take its course. 

  • Sindigo

    And do all their cooking in the dark with very sharp knives. God shall guide their hands.

  • keh

     As a fellow Ontarian, I approve this message.  ;)

  • JamesM

    If, as a daily bike rider, you really are concerned with your safety, go down to your nearest motorcycle store and buy some under jacket armor. As it stands, cyclists who where bicycle helmets are still wearing virtually no protection at all. No ankle protection, no knee, elbow, back, and shoulder protection, no face and chin protection, and no skin protection, for that matter. And guys: buy a cup.

  • Steve Bowen

    In the UK Sikhs are exempt from Motorcycle crash helmets, and safety headgear in the workplace,_UK_Legislation_Regarding_its_use_by_Sikhs

  • Bwr827

    Meet the hairmet.

  • Sindigo

    Only Fools is way ahead of you:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1502&bih=992&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=iw&ei=bS–T7TmK4rT8gPhnKFb 

  • Sindigo

    Is my sarcasm detector on the fritz?

  • Sindigo

    Although I broadly agree with you on the normalisation issue I’m not sure if this is the way to go about it.  The evidence isn’t there yet for the effectiveness of bicycle helmets in preventing serious injuries on a large enough scale. The numbers they’re quoting seem pretty small.

  • dorothy30

    most of these comments are about whether helmet legislation is warranted in general. i realize that there is some controversy there, but that was not the point of sending it to Hemant. The point it that, if the legislation is to be enacted, it should apply equally to all everyone. No child should be exempted on religious grounds from health and safety regulations.

  • Jett Perrobone

    What difference does it make what your religion is when it comes to head injury?!

    Exactly.  Religious belief is itself a form of head injury.

  • Sharon Hypatia

     Um, did you calculate that using all kids below age 18 in Manitoba or all kids who ride bikes?
    I suspect using the latter number (which excludes infants and toddlers and all other not bike-riding children under the age of 18) would come out to a higher percentage.

  • El Granto

    A few years ago Ontario won a legal battle with a Sikh over wearing a helmet on a motorcycle.

  • TooManyJens

    “I think as well,  a bicycle has got to be too new for the Sikhs to embrace”

    …what? Sikhs are not anti-modernity. You’re just making stuff up.

  • rhodent

    I think the exemption makes sense.  The point of the law is to make certain an injury doesn’t render you mentally feeble.  And if you think your religion means you don’t have to worry about being injured, then it’s clearly too late for that.

  • Ibis3

    Sikhs are not against technology. They just don’t like things that interfere with their men wearing turbans (for those that wear them–there are liberal Sikhs who shave and don’t wear turbans at all).

  • Sharon Hypatia

    I find cases like this so interesting because old religious practices are running head first into modernity.
    Like the Islam banning the depictions of the human form (to prevent idolatry).  It makes it very hard to make a movie, broadcast the news or fill a TV station’s line-up if you really, really stick to that one.
    Or the Amish refusing to cool the milk they sell to milk producers (because they eschew electricity). Big milk companies might not want to buy it and take the risk of contaminating their product.
    Or the Hindus bathing and dumping cremated remains in the Ganges. It might have been okay before big cities arose around the Ganges but today you are immersing yourself in a cesspool.
    Asking for exemptions is only a stop-gap. At some point the religions seem to give into the greater culture around them. Which is one reason that some of them work so hard to subvert and destroy the greater culture around them, I guess.

  • C Peterson

    This discussion has veered off course. Reasonable people may reasonably disagree on whether helmet laws or seatbelt laws are good policy. There are good arguments to be made both ways. But I don’t think reasonable people can disagree that building religious exemptions into laws  amounts to bad policy under all circumstances.

  • DavidFairbanks

    Your comment was the most ridiculous thing I’ve read all day, and I started the morning with a cup of coffee, a healthy bowel movement, and a 20 minute bible reading session.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I’m leery of any regulation that’s described as “it’s for the children” because, inevitably, it’s really not. In any case, I read a while back(couple years) that bike accidentally actually increased in Australia following the passage of a mandatory bike helmet law.

    In any case, I’m OK with religious exemptions from safety regulations, but only so  long as they endanger anybody else. People should be willing–and able–to live their own beliefs, and all the consequences attached to them.

  • Michael

    As a cyclist here in Canada when friends don’t wear bike helmets I thank them for keeping the costs of health care down.  (It was the same with seat belts).   They think about it for a while and then catch on.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Yes, because I see so many motorcycle riders wearing all that, and not a tshirt and shorts and sneakers and a Nazi-lookalike helmet to ensure their head gets crushed as thoroughly as possible.

  • The Other Weirdo

     I’ve never seen an actual case of sarchasm until now.

  • The Other Weirdo

     In Canada, the Canadian workers pay for medical costs. That’s what our income tax, 15% sales tax and 15% gasoline tax and the tire tax, among others, go to.

  • Tim

    seatbelts and bike lights are mandated in the UK.  Motorcycle helmets are also compulsory, but not push bike helmets.

    As a UK cyclist I would resist compulsory helmets.  Personally I wear a helmet when on the road or mountain biking as do most other people,  but travelling on an off-road bike track, I do not bother because I think that the risk is much lower and it is a risk I am willing to take.   

  • Heintje_K

    Get them to wear Kevlar turbans. Problem solved.

  • T-Rex

    Helmet laws screw up the natural selection process and contribute to over population, starvation and the watering down of our species gene pool. Stupid laws.  

  • jdm8

    It’s an interesting argument, but I’d like to know if there is support for the claim that helmet laws reduce bike ridership.

  • jdm8

    It’s harder to recover from a cranial injury than an injury to any of those other parts.

  • ggroups

     The car traditionally has provided a hard surface to hit your head on during an accident that is likely to occur at a high speed. These days, airbags provide some protection.

    From what I have been able to figure from looking at statistics, a helmet is as good an idea in a car as on a bike.

  • ggroups

     The government pays for head injuries that a helmet could of prevented while walking and driving. Since the risks are more or less the same for driving, walking, biking I am not sure I see your point.

  • jdm8

    Airbags are a secondary restraint.  Seat belts are the primary restraint.

  • Sindigo

    All the likes.

  • Rajat Jha

    Why is it that the typical liberal knee-jerk solution to a problem is “pass a law”? Kids getting in bike accidents? Pass a law! Bullying in schools? Pass a law! Sexual discrimination? Pass a law!

    The correct knee-jerk reaction here isn’t to pass a law, it’s “wear a fucking helmet!” If Sikh men don’t want to wear helmets, let them not wear helmets. The idea is to make laws as streamlined and broadly applicable as possible. This law will take personnel to enforce, an administrative system to keep track of fines and tickets, and there’s no indication that the new regulation will help curtail the behavior in question. 

    Instead of passing a regulation for every little thing, instead of using one’s time to lobby for regulations like this, I would think a better and more constructive use of time would be to go biking while wearing a helmet, or teaching your own kids to wear a helmet so they grow up with the habit. There are community-based ways to approach problems like this that don’t require government intervention. 

  • Artor

    I have a solution for the Sikhs- wrap a turban on the outside of a helmet and keep it there permanently. They can wear the helmet all day long and nobody will know, plus they’ll be safe from head injuries. Problem solved!

  • The Other Weirdo


    1) …that bike accidents actually…
    2) …as long as they don’t endanger anybody…

  • CanadianNihilist

    Personally I don’t care if people refuse to wear a helmet an die because of it.

    Actually I would prefer that people die from their own stupidity and/or delusional thinking as much as possible. It only makes the the species stronger for it.
    Bike helmets being the best case scenario, gene pool gets weeded out while no one else is hurt. Love it.

  • wmdkitty

     +1 for use of “sarchasm”

  • wmdkitty



  • Sarah

    Maybe it depends on the part of Ontario because at most I see people wearing them about 50% of the time.

  • Rich Wilson

    Sikhs and helmets in Canada has been ongoing since at least the early 80s.

    My personal beef is helmet laws that target just kids.  Here in California everyone under 16 must wear a helmet on anything with wheels.  So a kid on a bigwheel must, even though she’s at more risk of overheating than of falling and hitting her head.

    I think it gives the impression that helmets for adults matter less, since they’re not mandated.

    I often see families out for a ride where the kids all have helmets just about falling off because they’re not on properly, and the adults without helmets.  But the adults are just as unsteady and likely to fall as the kids.  Having an adult head doesn’t make you less prone to injury, it just means you have farther to fall.

    Kind of like how hands-free cell phones are legal, which gives the impression that hand-free is perfectly safe.  If you regulate one aspect of something, you imply that the other aspect is just fine.

    Am I getting off topic?  Oh, ok.  Honestly, this strikes me as a pretty innocuous religious exemption (even in single payer health care Canada) considering some of the other things out there.  I wonder if we shouldn’t try handing out more exemptions.  Give anyone who asks an exemption to anything on religious grounds.  I’ll get me an ordination from the back of Rolling Stone which allows me to leave my kid home alone for 30 min. 

  • The Other Weirdo

     I don’t see why, so long as it doesn’t affect anybody else.

  • Miko

    The religious exemption and “If I don’t want to wear a helmet, you can’t make me!” are really getting at the same thing.  The core of the libertarian objection to laws like this is that different people have different needs and imposing one standard that everyone must follow is not good for a diverse community.  The fact that this law would negatively impact Sikh’s is a perfect example of this.  They are rational people and can weigh for themselves the costs and benefits of helmets and I respect them enough to let them make their own choice.  As Hemant points out, there’s no reason to have a specific religious exemption for this law, as it’s rationality (however much rationality there is) applies equally to all.  But contrary to Hemant’s conclusion, the fact that the law doesn’t work well for Sikhs doesn’t imply that they should be required to follow it anyway but instead demonstrates why no one should be required to follow it.  (That said, I wear a helmet when I bike and suggest that you consider it as well.)

    From a financial perspective, it’s worth noting that this program is also incredibly costly for very little benefit.  Bike helmets normally sell for around $20.  Since these are low cost, let’s drop 25% and call it $15.  Then that gives us $15×73,000=$1,095,000 in bike helmets costs just through this program (and so not counting the costs of bike helmets purchased by individuals outside of this program).  By contrast, there were 54 cycling-related head injuries over a period of five years, so around 10.8 per year.  Since these 73,000 are just a subset of the biking population, it’s unlikely that this would prevent all of them, but let’s be generous and say that it does.  Is it really a good use of tax money to pay around $101,389 per injury prevented per year?

  • Miko

    The other day I met a madman in a mall who was shooting all of the blond-haired people.  I told him that he shouldn’t be shooting people, but as long as he was going to be shooting people, he should shoot everyone without regard for hair color.  One might argue that this just made things worse, but don’t forget: we need to uphold the principle of having things apply equally.

  • Miko

    As I mentioned in a separate post above, once you factor in the cost of helmets, this program costs over $100,000 per injury prevented per year.  I’d imagine that the average medical costs for a head injury are much smaller than this.  Assuming that you’re seriously basing your decision solely on financial considerations rather than on a selfish desire to impose your values on others, shouldn’t your policy instead be that the government should ban helmets since paying the medical costs is less expensive than paying for the helmets?

  • Tom

     Minor nitpick: the Stahlhelm predates the Nazis.

  • amycas

     I thought that’s what they did already…

    I kid, I kid

  • TerranRich

    “Actually I would prefer that people die from their own stupidity and/or delusional thinking as much as possible.”

    Does this thinking extend to children as well? I’m just curious. I’m not parroting the claim that this is “for the children”, just that children are potentially the most affected by bike helmet laws.

    Personally, I would prefer that people don’t needlessly die at all. It’s tragic, no matter who it is.

  • GeraardSpergen

    Helmet threads on cycling forums go religious with great regularity.  The anti-helmet law people are very convincing when they describe how the studies about injuries and helmets are severely flawed and not nearly as comprehensive as the pro-helmet law supporters would like you to believe.  Most safety-conscious riders shrug their shoulders and wear one anyway.

    Sikhs make the news a lot about these kind of rules – helmets, hard hats, uniform caps, etc.  Seems they usually win the lawsuits that I read about.

  • Deven Kale

     I’m one of the anti-helmet law people. You forgot to mention that there is also evidence showing that people, particularly young people, are more likely to engage in risky behaviors while wearing helmets and therefore cause themselves more injuries in places other than the head.

  • JamesM

    And they are dumb not to. And it doesn’t mean that it makes bicyclists safer because of lazy Harley riders and squids. I’m a daily motorcycle rider, I ride easily 1000 miles a month and I am ATGATT. Bicycle helmets are toys.

  • JamesM

    And so where a proper helmet that protects all of the head, not some cheap skid plate that won’t do much against being hit by a car. Where real protection that protects you in a fall. A 20-30 mile per hour fall can wreak havoc on an unprotected body. If a cyclists are truly concerned about proper protection, they would where proper protection.

  • joe smith

     the government pays for HIV drugs and sti treatment too. I have no desire to see a mandated condom law.

  • Deven Kale

     I think we may have a case of double sarchasm here. :D

  • Deven Kale

    If I had to wear a worthless bike helmet when riding my bike or get a $50 ticket, I’d rather take my car. There’s your proof.

  • wmdkitty

     What does AGTATT mean?

  • jdm8

    That’s the equivalent of an anecdote, not proof of how the population at large would react.

    On the face of it, it seems silly.  That’s like people saying they would quit driving if they were required to use a seat belt.  I don’t think that’s happened.

  • Deven Kale

     Part of my disdain for bike helmets has to do with the fear-mongering involved in getting them put into law, based on flimsy evidence at best.

    Seat belts, on the other hand, are proven to save lives and therefore quite useful. Not to mention they’re nowhere nearly as uncomfortable and do nothing at all to hair which many people spend half an hour styling every single day (I’m not one of those, but it’s still valid).

    There really aren’t any decent arguments against seatbelts, but there are for bike helmets.

  • Randy

    So, based on your data, we’re talking about  injuries that a helmet could prevent, about one per month (54 child cycling head injuries over 5 years), in a pool of apparently 73,000 cycling children, if we assume the government subsidized enough child helmets for the province.

    Less than one per thousand over 5 years in Manitoba.  About one per month across the province. 

    I’m not sure this is enough to require legislation.

  • Larry Meredith

    I remember seeing a really good bit by a comedian about this sort of thing. They fall off and crack their head, paramedics come along and unwind the turban, then shout “Oh he’s bleeding!” then wrap the turban back on again.

  • Larry Meredith

    Of course not, but isn’t it illegal to transmit STIs to people?

  • Deven Kale

    Only if you knowingly do so without informing your partner that you had it. If either a) you didn’t know you had it, or b) both of you knew about it beforehand, then it’s perfectly legal.

  • Michael S

    Why can’t they just integrate protective helmets into their head-covering habits?

  • george.w

    It sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it? But it’s a classic case (sorry to use your comment as an example*) of surface appearances’ thinking. We see the outer shape of the turban and think that’s the idea – as if casting the right shadow were the point. What we don’t see is what’s inside the person’s head, and I don’t mean the three pounds of neural tissue we’re trying to protect. Very likely the act of winding the turban has some significance that is important to the practitioner. 
    Of course at the end of the day, the law is the law. Clearly they could give two rips about the concerns of the law and it might help us to understand why. I must admit I waver back and forth between saying “no exceptions!” and saying “All right, fine, whatever; instead of a law we’ll just get movie stars to do PSA’s mocking people who risk their brains to save their hairstyles”*I once ran a tech department for a computer dealer who would try to shorten every procedure by saying “Can’t you just… x?” and we knew that x would be some half-assed concatenation that would utterly miss the point. A typical example was when we refused to use counterfeit Windows licenses that he had purchased. It became a joke around the shop.   “Can’t you just make sandwiches out of cardboard? We have lots of cardboard.”

  • george.w

    As long as the thread is getting mucked up with questions about whether helmet laws are a good thing, or (the main point) religious exceptions are an inexplicable thing… Much of the statistics about helmet efficacy reflect the poor fitting that most helmets receive. Correct fitting is essential and much better addressed by public information campaigns and bike shops. (Note: most the largest number of bikes are probably sold at Wal-Mart and they sure as hell aren’t going to fit a helmet for you).

  • Michael S

     That’s exactly what I’m wondering. Whether it’s the act of wrapping, or the material, or what other kind of habit is involved, there are still other options. We have to know what the significance of the habit is in the first place.

    It seems to be more than “Cover my hair.”

    Being vague and evasive is what makes religious excuses so pervasive. Of course most Muslim’s don’t want to change their habits. But if we try reasoning, maybe we can get some of them to ride their bikes more safely. Throwing your hands up and saying “Oh, what they feel is all a big mystery. We’ll never know” doesn’t help anyone.

  • Za_bugor

    Do your research on helmets before talking about this law. Bike helmet effectiveness is questionable at best, and mandatory helmet laws have been shown to cost lives, because they discourage cycling, which contributes to obesity and other health problems, and also makes cycling less safe for those who keep cycling, due to a decreased number of cyclists (there is safety in numbers). If this law made sense, I’d support your point, but it just does not.

  • Za_bugor

    Then why are religious beliefs given preferential treatment? Why can’t we say this about any personal conviction?

  • Anonymous

    Why am I the only one who thought that someone should make helmets that are able to fit the turban underneath it so their heads are protected and they can believe the dogma of their choice?

  • Guest

    You really need to do more research. It is not just Skihs but others who may have religious exemptions. People who don’t wear helmets know the risks. Personally, I have religious and medical reasons for not wearing one.  Fact is that if you are in a crash, helmets can increase the risk of neck injuries or make neck injuries worse.  Severe neck injuries have a higher survival rate than severe head injuries, but they are often paralyzed for life. I would rather die than be confined to wheelchair. As far as being a burden to hospitals I have a “do not resuscitate” order, so if I smash my head in after a bike injury, they won’t revive me. My DNR order also states I will sue any medic or hospital who violates the order.

  • Tracy Bradley

    I live in Ontario too, and rarely see anyone wearing a helmet. Bike cops do, most bike couriers, but other than that…