Repeal of obligatory bicycle helmet law in Bosnia and Herzegovina
After six long years of campaigning for the abolition of the compulsory wearing of bicycle helmets in Bosnia and Herzegovina the Centre for Environment welcomed the adoption of the Law on Amendments to the Law on traffic safety on the roads of Bosnia and Herzegovina. With exceptional joy and pride we can confirm to all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina that they can now choose whether or not they want to wear a safety helmet. We would especially like to thank Mr Zoran Andric from the Ministry of Communication and Transport of Bosnia and Herzegovina who proactively informed all stakeholders as well as gave us opportunity several times to explain our facts and figures that were against obligatory bicycle helmets. The conduct of the representatives from this ministry during the public hearing process and decision making is a model for all public institutions.
Tihomir Dakic, Transport Program Coordinator at the Center for Environment: “This is a major step towards greater and easier promotion of the use of bicycles as a means of transport. It returns the focus from reducing the consequences of crashes, to minimizing the causes of traffic crashes. Since 2006 until now cycling was incorrectly presented as a dangerous activity. In fact the health benefits of the daily use of the bicycle outweigh the traffic risks by around 20:1. Now it is up to the local communities to pay more attention to the traffic regulation, demotivation of the use of motor vehicles, promotion of healthy ways of movement and reducing air pollution. We invite all those who stopped using the bicycle due to the helmet law to return to it, to respect traffic rules and enjoy all the benefits that cycling provides. ”
Milenko Dzever, Associate for roads and licenses at the Agency for Traffic Safety of the Republic of Srpska: “On behalf of the Agency we welcome the changes to the Law, and we wish to note that Article 102 does not prohibit the wearing of helmets, but gives the choice to people whether they want to use it or not. Of course, we recommend that children wear helmets until they master riding a bicycle well enough. So far the old article of the Law discouraged bicycle use, and it should be the opposite, to discourage users of motor vehicles, especially in urban areas. Since the motor car is still seen as a status symbol in our country about 80% of trips are made by personal motor vehicle. This urgently needs to be changed. By investing in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure for the local community we will significantly improve traffic calming, increase the level of traffic safety, which in turn will significantly improve the health of people and economic development of local communities”.
About changes in the law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they said:
Ceri Woolsgrove, expert on traffic safety, the European Cyclists Federation, Brussels:
“European Cyclists Federation (ECF) believes that cyclists should be able to choose whether to wear or not to wear helmets and reflective vests. We do not agree with the mandatory use of helmets and reflective vests. We welcome the excellent work of the Centre for Environment, a member of the ECF that highlighted this important issue representing the interests of cyclists to the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Cycling is not an overly dangerous activity and brings tremendous health benefits for individuals, and has a positive effect on the environment and society as a whole. Defending cycling in all its forms, helmeted or non-helmeted, is important to the development of cycling and the use of all its benefits. We welcome the work of the Ministry of Communications and Transport for allowing citizens the freedom to choose their clothing with which they want to ride a bicycle. We also expect that the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina contribute to facilitating the development of safer traffic, especially for cyclists and pedestrians”.
Sue Knaup, Executive Director of the international association One Street, Prescott, Arizona, USA:
“Bosnia and Herzegovina has set an important precedent with this repeal. Any law that mandates the wearing of helmets or other articles, criminalizes the use of bicycles as an efficient and affordable means of transportation. We at One Street applaud this important repeal and look forward to showcasing Bosnia and Herzegovina as a model for jurisdictions ready to remove their own unjust laws against bicycling.”
Before the campaign started the paragraph about bicycle helmets in the Law adopted 2006 was:
Riders of bicycle, bicycle with a motor, light motorcycle or motorbike and persons transported on those vehicles must wear protective helmets while riding.“
During these years the police rarely fined cyclists, but they started to lobby to integrate better definition of bicycle helmet wearing as well as impose reflective vests.
Then police and transport safety experts lobbied for defining it further to protect cyclists and Ministry of Communication and Transport changed it in 2010 to this:
Riders of bicycles, mopeds, light motorcycle, motorcycle, tricycle, light quads or quads and persons carried on those vehicles must properly use safety helmet while riding, and in the period from dusk to complete dawn, as well as during the day in case of low visibility, cyclists must use reflective vest.“
This was the moment in which we started to investigate all Laws on traffic safety from different countries and soon we found out that we were “The worst”.
We spent countless hours and days over six years lobbying with no funds, only huge enthusiasm and energy to repeal this most serious negative impact on cycling promotion.
Then, with the help of the authorities noted above, this was the result of our struggle:
(1) The rider of a moped, light motorcycle, motorcycle, tricycle, light quads and quads, as well as persons transported on these vehicles must carry on his head buttoned protective helmet.
(2) The rider of the bicycle during the period from dusk to complete dawn, as well as during the day in case of reduced visibility, they need to use reflective vest or reflective appropriate equipment that provides adequate visibility of the rider or the bicycle.”
We succeed to exclude the word “bicycle” from paragraph (1) and the protective helmets became history. Meanwhile in paragraph (2) we added second part after reflective vests to allow a choice of ways for making us, cyclists, more visible and with more comfortable accessories.