Ontario to allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets

Ontario to allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets

Ontario Sikhs to get OK to ride motorcycles without helmets: Ford

Bhupinder Singh might be the very first Sikh in Alberta to receive a new licence that allows him to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, in Edmonton, May 9, 2018. Ed Kaiser / Postmedia

TORONTO — Ontario will soon allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets, joining three other provinces in providing the exemption.

The Progressive Conservative government said Wednesday that the exemption — which goes into effect Oct. 18 — will recognize Sikh motorcycle riders’ civil rights and religious expression.

Expert raises safety concernsOntario's previous Liberal government had resisted calls for the exemption, saying that relevant academic research and legal decisions supported not granting it to Sikh motorcycle riders because it would pose a road safety risk.

“The safety of our roads will always remain a priority,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “But our government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.”

Last week, Tory legislator Prabmeet Sarkaria tabled a bill to amend the Highway Traffic Act to allow the helmet exemption, but the government said Wednesday it would be bringing about the change through a regulation.

“I have been calling for a helmet exemption for turbaned Ontario Sikh motorcyclists for several years now,” Sarkaria said in a statement. “The wearing of the turban is an essential part of the Sikh faith and identity, and exemptions for Sikhs have been successfully implemented in other provinces in Canada and across the world.”

"The safety of our roads will always remain a priority," Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. "But our government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being."

Video: Doug Ford says Ontario government to allow Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets

Motorcycle riding Sikhs will no longer be required to wear helmets in Ontario

Turbaned Sikhs are already exempt from wearing motorcycle helmets in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia.

Ontarios previous Liberal government had resisted calls for the exemption, saying that relevant academic research and legal decisions supported not granting it to Sikh motorcycle riders because it would pose a road safety risk.

The United Kingdom implemented a motorcycle helmet exemption for Sikhs in 1976, the Ontario government noted.

“I have been calling for a helmet exemption for turbaned Ontario Sikh motorcyclists for several years now,” Sarkaria said in a statement. “The wearing of the turban is an essential part of the Sikh faith and identity, and exemptions for Sikhs have been successfully implemented in other provinces in Canada and across the world.”

Ford said the move to allow the helmet exemption came after listening to the Sikh community. He also said it fulfilled a promise made during the spring election campaign.

“The safety of our roads will always remain a priority,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “But our government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.”

Ontario’s previous Liberal government had resisted calls for the exemption, saying that relevant academic research and legal decisions supported not granting it to Sikh motorcycle riders because it would pose a road safety risk.

Ontario’s previous Liberal government had resisted calls for the exemption, saying that relevant academic research and legal decisions supported not granting it to Sikh motorcycle riders because it would pose a road safety risk.

Ontario to exempt Sikh motorcyclists from helmet law

Raynald Marchand, general manager of programs at the Canada Safety Council, called the helmet exemption “disappointing” but not surprising since Ford had been signalling the move for months.

“Safety is a priority for all of us, we have to respect the civil rights and that’s what I believe in and religion expressions,” said Ford. “They want to express themselves, I am all supportive, 100% behind them.”

“The main implication is that we’re going to get people who will get hurt,” he said. “There’s no question that if they do fall, (a turban) will not provide the protection that a helmet would provide.”

Marchand, an expert in motorcycle safety, said the exemption should be granted to turban-wearing Sikhs only after they receive their full motorcycle licences, not during training.

Bill 41, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Helmet Exemption for Sikh Motorcyclists), exempts members of the Sikh religion who have unshorn hair and who habitually wear turbans from the requirement to wear a helmet.

“They are most vulnerable at the learning stage,” he said. “They might also find that wearing a helmet is actually a pretty good thing.”

"I have been calling for a helmet exemption for turbaned Ontario Sikh motorcyclists for several years now," Sarkaria said in a statement. "The wearing of the turban is an essential part of the Sikh faith and identity, and exemptions for Sikhs have been successfully implemented in other provinces in Canada and across the world."

TORONTO — Ontario will soon allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets, joining three other provinces in providing the exemption.

The Progressive Conservative government said Wednesday that the exemption — which goes into effect Oct. 18 — will recognize Sikh motorcycle riders civil rights and religious expression.

Ontarios previous Liberal government had resisted calls for the exemption, saying that relevant academic research and legal decisions supported not granting it to Sikh motorcycle riders because it would pose a road safety risk.

“The safety of our roads will always remain a priority, Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “But our government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.

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Last week, Tory legislator Prabmeet Sarkaria tabled a bill to amend the Highway Traffic Act to allow the helmet exemption, but the government said Wednesday it would be bringing about the change through a regulation.

Premier Doug Ford says road safety will remain a priority but his government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.


Posted in Ontario