New helmet use and bicycle safety promotion
Cyclists using Island roads this summer may risk a fine if they are caught without a helmet, but wearing a bike helmet could earn them a treat from Island businesses, says Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Paula Biggar.
“Helmets are required by law when riding on Prince Edward Island, but we still see too many children and adults who persist in using bicycles without taking this small measure to protect themselves,” said the minister.
“Using a helmet can protect a bicycle rider from the kind of head injury that leaves lasting damage. My Department and our partners want to do everything we can to encourage Islanders to ride their bicycles safely.”
Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, the Brain Injury Association of PEI, Cycling PEI and police forces are once again cooperating to deliver Operation Headway –a program that combines helmet education efforts with a grant of $1,500 from the department to supply helmets for cyclists in financial need. Outer Limits Sports supplies helmets at cost for Operation Headway.
All summer, officers with police departments will be watching for helmet use among bicycle riders and issuing tickets to those caught without a helmet. Those tickets will be voided if the cyclist attends and completes a helmet education course to be offered by the Highway Safety Division of the Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy. Penalties for this offence range from $100 to $500 with a $75 victim surcharge.
“Policing isn’t always about penalizing people and actually many Islanders would be surprised at how much educational work officers do in order to get ahead of danger to the public,” said Commanding Officer of Island RCMP, Chief Superintendent Joanne Crampton. “This initiative works well with our involvement in communities across Prince Edward Island and offers us a way to reward those who make smart decisions and educate those who don’t see the value in wearing a helmet. I’m pleased to partner with other Island police agencies and the Province to encourage helmet use.”
Mike Connolly, of Cycling PEI, said he hopes to see most people opt to take the safety course rather than pay the fine. He said more Islanders should enjoy biking the province’s roads and trails, but they should take reasonable precautions to protect their safety.
“We have a very powerful presentation with some personal stories about the impact that can happen when people have accidents while not wearing helmets,” he said. “I’d like to see people who are ticketed for not wearing helmets make the choice to come and be educated about the risks they are taking.”
Kenneth Murnaghan, director of the Brain Injury Association of PEI, said he was happy to see police and safety officials pick up the helmet education and enforcement work that was carried out in previous years.
“I feel it needs to be brought back to the agenda. More head injury prevention education must be provided," said Mr. Murnaghan.
To help reinforce the safety message Island police forces are going to be provided with gift certificates from Island stores and restaurants that they can then pass out to people they see wearing a helmet while riding.
“It’s just a positive message that we can send – you made a wise choice by wearing a helmet, now here’s an ice cream or a burger. This is a fun way to acknowledge people who are cycling safely,” said Josh Mohan, a bicycle safety educator working with the Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.