By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Bicycle helmet safety is paramount, as southern Albertans saddle up on their bikes for a summer of sun and fun. Sadly, many children and adults forget or don’t bother to put on helmets before venturing out on their bikes. “Any cyclist under the age of 18 has to, by law, wear a helmet. It is the law for them. Even if you have a child in a bike trailer, they have to wear helmets. We even urge adults to be good role models and to wear helmets. Just because they’re over the age of 18 doesn’t mean their skull and brain can’t be hurt if they fall off their bike or get hit by a vehicle,” said Andrea Klassen, health promotions facilitator for AHS South Zone.
If a child, under the age of 18 is not wearing an approved bicycle helmet when cycling, it is a ticket-able offence.
“If bylaw or the police officers do want to ticket a child, they can. The ticket, I believe, is around $60. If they are looking at getting ticketed, they’re better off to buy another helmet or buy their child a helmet and have that helmet on them rather than getting a ticket,” said Klassen.
In Alberta alone, Klassen noted, AHS sees 44 Albertans go to emergency departments every day due to bicycle-related injuries.
“That’s still a high number. Your child can get hurt and we see a lot of kids not using their proper hand signals when they’re riding their bike around town or riding out from between vehicles. They’re not actually abiding by the rules of the road when they are riding their bikes. The potential for them to get hurt, in they’re not wearing that helmet, even if they are wearing a helmet and don’t know how to properly ride around town, is quite high,” she added.
AHS research shows bicycle helmets reduce the risk of brain injury by more than 85 per cent.
“If you put that helmet on you’re really reducing the chance of your child’s skull and brain getting hurt by properly wearing that helmet,” she said, adding bicycle safety events are held in schools and throughout communities and peace officers will help kids learn hand signals and to properly ride bicycles.
Klassen said parachutecanada.org is a great bicycle safety resource for parents. “There’s a lot of information about bike safety.”
Sometimes kids will wear helmets, but will not wear them buckled up, or kids will wear them on the top of their head.
“Which isn’t going to work how they are designed. We always follow the ‘2V1 Rule.’ We teach kids how to properly put on their helmets by following ‘2V1,’ which means two fingers above the eyebrow when it’s buckled up. You want a ‘V’ around the ears with that little buckle that sits right underneath your ear. Then you want to buckle it up and ensure there is only one finger underneath your chin, that’s how tight it should be,” she explained.
“Just because you throw a helmet on their head — you need to make sure they are properly wearing it,”she added.
When helmets are used and worn properly it acts as a shock absorber, Klassen said. She added if a helmet is older than five years it needs to be replaced or if the helmet was worn in an accident or is cracked. “They do expire,” she said. “It isn’t meant to last forever.”