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Bicycle riders still cannot be fined for riding without a helmet, even though a law that took effect Tuesday stipulates fines of between NIS 200 and NIS 250 for the infraction. This is because the Transportation Ministry has yet to define exactly what a "protective helmet" is, and therefore, the law cannot be enforced.

Police have therefore said that in the coming months, rather than fining cyclists without helmets, they will issue warnings and explain the reason for the law.

The law, which continues to engender public debate, passed the Knesset two months ago by a large majority. However, MKs Orit Noked (Labor) and Dov Khenin (Hadash) recently formulated a bill to encourage transportation by bicycle that would in effect annul the helmet requirement for adults.

MK Gilad Erdan (Likud), who sponsored the helmet law, said it was "certain to increase awareness of safety while riding a bike." He also said that the law was first and foremost to protect children and teens, but the Knesset decided to include adults as well.

According to the child safety organization B'Terem and the traffic safety organization Or Yarok, helmet laws in New York, New Jersey, Canada and elsewhere have reduced hospitalizations from bike accidents, especially among children.

However, those opposed to the law say that few other countries' laws are similar to the Israeli one, which mandates helmets for any kind of cycling, and that countries where bike-riding is common, such as Holland, do not have helmet laws.

"The helmet law has good public relations, but it isn't effective, and no study has shown its effectiveness in accidents," said Noam Segel of the Israel Bicycle Association. He added that forcing people to wear helmets might reduce the number of cyclists.