Should Sikhs wear motorcycle helmets?

Sikh Baljinder Badesha rides without a helmet

What is more important: Religious belief or safety? The issue has been around for a while and has recently resurfaced in Canada.


Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has ruled against turban-wearing Sikhs being exempt from wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle saying that safety is the utmost priority.

It follows a $100 fine given to Sikh Baljinder Badesha who rode without a helmet.

The Premier claims that in jurisdictions with mandatory helmet laws, death rates in motorcycle accidents have gone down 30% and head injuries down by 75%. Ontario has a mandatory helmet law which the courts have found doesn’t infringe on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The Canadian Sikh Association says the decision is “deeply” disappointing.

In 2013, a Queensland court ruled that a turban-wearing Sikh didn’t need to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, but that ruling has not yet been tested for the use of riding motorcycles!

Another similar issue is the right of fuel station operators to require motorcycle riders to remove their helmets before fuelling for “safety reasons”, yet they can’t require Muslim women wearing a hijab to unveil their faces. (Actually, it’s not really a safety issue at all, but an issue of identifying people in case they “do a runner” without paying.)

So, is safety more important than religious freedom? Or should there be legal exemptions based on religious rites?


  1. During the First and Second World Wars, sikhs fought for the British Empire. They did NOT wear helmets while being shot at by the enemy as their beliefs forbid them from removing it. If a sikh is prepared to go into battle for this country without a helmet why should they not be allowed to ride a motorcycle without one. I’m writing from England where this law was changed as a consequence of the above point by the government who initially objected.
    To those who say rules are rules, get a life.

  2. If person go on work a sikh not able to go without turbn and helmet we can not wear over the turbn it posses psychological more chance of risk please allow the person with proper thick turbn to drive because without turbn no sikh is sikh

  3. I believe its their own choice – Helmetless or Headless? Both linked in the rising numbers of deaths in motorcycle accidents, especially so in places like Florida that has no helmet law. I am amiss at what the real issue here is and am puzzled why any rider in his right mind (pun intended) would NOT choose to wear a protective helmet considering the extreme danger of riding motorcycles.

  4. I don’t think they could fit a helmet on as their turbans cover a lifetime of never getting a haircut. (I worked with a Indian whose hair could touch the ground standing up) They would have the same problem as a person with a lifetime growth of dreadlocks. Now until Nolan comes out with the new n104 in XXXXXXL or puts in a pony tail hole then they will have no excuses.

  5. Sorry, but rules are rules. I could have a scalp condition for example and not want to wear a helmet….tough titty.
    All this inequality does is undermine minorities and cause resentment. The turban comes off at times, so it can come off to put a helmet on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *