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More Sikhs allowed to ride in turban

Sikhs sikh turban helmet

Sikhs in Ontario are now allowed to ride in a turban instead of a helmet, joining riders in three other Canadian provinces as Australian Sikhs seek the same exemptions.

The Ontario government has granted the rule waivers to Sikhs in recognition of their civil rights and religious expression after a bill presented by parliamentarian and Sikh Prabmeet Sarkaria.

“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,” he said.

Sikhs are also exempt from wearing motorcycle helmets in Indian, Pakistan (in Peshawar only), the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, and the UK introduced the exemption in 1976. In New Zealsnd, they can ride with a turban instead of a helmet at speeds under 60km/h.Turban Sikh sikhs helmet

However, Denmark is following France by cracking down on helmet exemptions that allow riders to go without a helmet if they obtain a doctor’s note or have a legitimate non-medical reason such as wearing a turban. 

Aussie Sikhs

Sikh Motorcycle Club rides for charity sikhs turban
Aussie Sikhs

The Sikh Motorcycle Club of Australia told us last year that motorcycle and bicycle helmet rules are discriminatory.

They are calling for an exemption for all cyclists and for motorcyclists and scooterists riding at low speeds only.

Founding member Daljeet Singh told us that while initiated male and female Sikhs must cover their hair with a turban, Sikh Motorcycle Club members wear a bandana-style scarf underneath their helmets.

The Central Coast of NSW Sikhs say they have campaigned to Coffs Coast Council for the right to not wear helmets on city streets signposted up to 60km/h.

However, the matter would have to be decided by the NSW Centre for Road Safety (CRS). Neither council nor the CRS can find any record of contact from the group.

There are about 126,000 Sikhs in Australia, according to the 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics census. It is the fifth largest religion after Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.

Victoria has seen the sharpest increase in the number of Sikhs with 52,762. The state with the second highest Sikh population is NSW with 31,737 Sikhs, Queensland 17,433, Western Australia 11,897, South Australia 8808, ACT 2142 and Northern Territory and Tasmania have under 700 Sikhs each. 

Turban symbol

Why do Sikhs wear turbans? Here is an explanation from Sikh Council of Australia’s website.

Unshorn hair (‘Kesh’) are also an essential part of the Sikh Code of Conduct. This makes Turban an essential part of a Sikh’s attire. Like the ‘Kirpan’ issue, this is another issue where the Government and its departments as well as the wider Australian community need to be informed about the importance of the Turban for a Sikh. More importantly, in order to tackle the hate crimes and discrimination based on the ‘looks’ the Australian community is being educated about the distinction between a Sikh and other members of the community who may also wear a Turban or cover their head or perhaps may look the same due to other items of clothing (for example the salwar and kameez for the women).

Hopefully the Government will introduce measures which will allow the wider Australian community to be more aware and tolerant and not discriminate against someone wearing a Turban and not assume that they might be a terrorist.

  1. Had an exemption until they were banned in the early 90’s it was great .Unfortunately we wont see those days again I feel sorry for the younger riders coming through…bloody nanny state

    1. You think it’s appropriate for people to ride a motorbike on the road with no helmet? You know when it goes bad and they need 24 hour care for the rest of their lives the tax payer is going to have to foot the bill?

  2. Allowing for Sikh’s not to wear a helmet would be discrimination against all other Australian riders who wear helmets!

  3. No religion should be exempt from state laws. Perhaps an exemption could be considered if the Sikhs agree to cover all costs (medical, police etc,) when involved in a crash and absolutely no taxpayer funds are to be used for rescue, treatment, transport or rehabilitation. Once those cost implications are calculated and understood, I’m sure they’d be only too happy to wear a helmet. The other option is to choose some other form of transport. Religious organisations (which are in reality huge businesses) should start paying taxes as well.

  4. We all dont like being told , but sometimes they are correct . Been riding for 46 years , and would certainly be dead , given how some of my helmets have survived accidents . If the insist on wearing a Turban , no riding , stay in your car . Pulling the religious card is just crap . Next they will want their kids on the bike as well , who will have no say in their own safety . Then our hospital system will be expected to pick up the carnage .

  5. Sikhs consider them selves above the law every where they are in the world. They consider them selves above all others, top of the caste system.

  6. As someone who works in the emergency medical field, I would suggest that wearing a helmet is a great idea if you like your face the way it looks and your brain inside your skull.
    You would be surprised how much damage can be done even at low speeds.
    The law wasn’t made in regards to religious discrimination it was made for your own safety.
    I would suggest you leave it alone unless your happy to be liable for any injuries you sustain by not wearing one.

  7. well as an older rider I have seen what happens when you ride without a helmet as my dear friend was killed in a minor smash with no helmet back in 1972 in Hobart he was clipped at low speed on Elizabeth st
    at about 50kh and had the back of his skull ripped open and died on the road people say oh we wont the right to choose but they don’t think about the people who have deal with it after the damage is done ore their family and if you survive the rest of us have to foot the bill for all the 24h care your family is left wiping your nose ass chin changing you feeding you and crying themselves to sleep think of this when you want to ride without a helmet because its not just you that gets fucked up when you have even a minor stack without A helmet because it will happen its just a mater of time

  8. Look,all they have to do is find an ece or australian standards approved turban and they are good to go,i would reccomend a silk/carbon fibre helmet-no bike,simple as that.

  9. Sikhs seem to manage to play cricket perfectly well without wearing a turban, instead wearing a sort of bandanna/hairnet item. Just wear the same under their helmet.

  10. As an Australian, and someone who appreciate everything that the Sikhs have done, I would vote in favour of allowing the Turban to be swapped for a helmet when riding under 60kph.

  11. I have been riding for 52 years always carefully then it happened another rider flouting the road rules speeding fell off his bike, on a horseshoe bend which was signposted 15km, his bike hit me, my speedo stopped on 12mph and I came off, lucky was wearing a helmet, the left rear of the helmet struck the roadway and I was momentarily knocked out. What would have happened if no helmet probably wouldn’t be here today.

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