Cycle safety first

Eric Sparling
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Police, community stress safe student biking

The Amherst Police Department joined forces with Canadian Tire and the Amherst Lions Club to host a bike rodeo at West Highlands Elementary on Tuesday.

AMHERST – There weren’t any cowboy hats at this rodeo, but every child on a bike had a helmet.

The Amherst Police Department, along with community partners, held a “bike rodeo” at West Highlands Elementary School Tuesday.

“So they know the rules and regulations (of riding),” said organizer, APD Const. Derek Hebert. “Safety is number one.”

Entering the fenced grounds, bicycles were inspected by a Canadian Tire employee, Elton LeBlanc. Pylons marked out a circuitous route. Those with bikes got to ride, while even those without had a lesson in hand signals, navigating the course on foot.

“Kids all have to have a helmet,” said Const. Tom Wood, who was assisting with the event.

The IWK donated helmets to police forces across the province last year. The local department received 150. Children without helmets, or with helmets that were damaged or ill-fitting, received a new helmet at the rodeo.

Hebert said that “at this age,” the large majority of youngsters comply with helmet rules and wear them. Compliance declines with age. But Nova Scotia law mandates all people must wear helmets when riding bicycles. The constable confirmed that the fine for a first offense is $141.16, although officers have the option of diverting riders into taking a head trauma seminar instead.

“We haven’t seen a lot of injury around town,” said Hebert.

Const. Wood said there will be a reprise this year of last summer’s reward program for kids seen out in the community wearing helmets (last year officers had fast food coupons to give away).

The rodeo is a friendly way for police to check the condition of the bikes and helmets being used by kids, said Wood.

“I think it’s great,” said Bob Estabrooks, a Lions volunteer helping at the event.

He said the erratic riding of some cyclists scares him as a motorist.

Wood said they try to do the rodeo at both elementary schools but it was up in the air if the event at Spring Street Academy would happen this year. The rodeos are happening late this year, and there may not be room in the calendar at that school.

Canadian Tire donated bikes to two students selected by teachers, and the Co-Operators donated freezies for all participants.


Organizations: Canadian Tire, Amherst Police Department, West Highlands Elementary School APD Const. Street Academy

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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