Heads up and helmets on

Darrell Cole
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Amherst police stepping up cycling safety enforcement

Heads up and helmets on

AMHERST - The town is about to get tough with bicyclists who refuse to wear a helmet.
Starting today, police officers will be seizing bicycles, scooters and skateboards and issuing fines on certain days. On other days they will be rewarding those who are complying with the laws requiring them to wear a helmet.
"Every week we're going to have an enforcement day during which there will be no warnings, bikes will be seized and people will get tickets," Const. Francis Smith of the Amherst Police said Wednesday during the kickoff for the Heads Up, Helmets On program at Amherst Stadium. "On the other days we'll be having rewards days. Many businesses in town have given us prizes and when we see kids wearing helmets we'll be giving them out and encouraging them to wear helmets."
Amherst Police were joined with their counterparts from CN in kicking off the provincewide program during a morning session sponsored by Wal-Mart. Participants were tested on their "Noggin Knowledge" through a video and then participated in a number of skill-testing activities with an opportunity to win prizes.
Following the event, Austin Hicks had his name randomly selected to win a new bicycle.
It didn't take much to convince Alysha Deegan about the benefits of helmet use.
"I've always used a helmet on my bicycle because I don't want to hit my head and injure my brain," the 12-year-old said. "You could get hurt really bad if you fall and don't have a helmet on."
Deegan enjoyed the day and found the activities challenging.
Smith was impressed with the number of children who participated in the morning event, but was disappointed with the condition of some of the bicycles. He said quite a few bicycles checked during the event did not have working brakes.
Amherst Police have been working at educating, and in some cases charging, bicyclists since the provincial legislation was passed two years ago requiring helmets during the use of non-motorized wheeled vehicles.
The Heads Up, Helmets On program is the latest initiative and Smith is hoping focused enforcement will drive the message home that it's not only unsafe to use a bicycle without a helmet, it's also illegal.
Those ticketed in July and August will have the option of attending a session at the Amherst Lions Club in September at which time their fines will be forgiven. Those who don't attend will have to pay the $135 fine.
Smith said the department's statistics indicate about 56 per cent of bicyclists wear a helmet and he pointed out that most who aren't in compliance are adults. Children, he said, were quick to buy into the program because of education and awareness in area schools.


Organizations: Amherst Police, Wal-Mart, Amherst Lions Club

Geographic location: Amherst Stadium

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Recent comments

  • Hockey
    January 18, 2010 - 11:17

    Hey My Thought...
    Improperly fitting helmets are likely the cause of injuries for those wearing them.
    Also once someone dons a helmet they feel they can't be injured & this usually leads to more reckless riding, hence more injuries.
    The law can't make people lose weight but it can make people wear helmets.
    A properly fitted good quality helmet will prevent injury - period.
    Falls from bicycles are particularly dangerous because of the riding height/position of the rider. It is the vertical acceleration that causes more severe injury as opposed to the lateral or horizontal acceleration.
    Since the riding height of a bicycle is much higher than that of even a motorcycle, in some circumstances, bicyclists are at greater risk than motorcyclists.
    These are all well researched facts too.
    Don't put too much stock in what you read on the net, for every fact there is always another to refute it.
    It comes down to common sense, the little 12 year old girl in the article has it figured out, why can't you.

  • Helmets help
    January 18, 2010 - 11:06

    Bike helmets do not work unless they are properly secured. I've seen many people, adults and children, with the helmet on, but not latched.

    And cars have to realize that bikes have a right to use the road, too (not all over the road, but not crowded to the side and nearly hit). Also, cyslists have to remember that they can't be on the sidewalk. I've nearly been hit a few times while walking on Havelock by a tween that speeds up and down the sidewalk... no warning that he's coming when he speeds by. He's going to end up hitting someone..

    Donning a helmet has not lead to obesity. I could pull up any statistic and match it with other things and say that the fall of the Berlin Wall has led to obesity.... statistics are just numbers, and people are just lazy. If a helmet stopped them from biking, then that's their problem... I think anything would have stopped them... the helmet is just as excuse.

  • My
    January 18, 2010 - 11:04

    Since madatroy bicycle helmet laws, cycling has decreased between an average of 20-40% which contributes to health problems such as obesity. Guess what? Your tax dollars pay for that every single day AND obnesity can be prevented.

    One study pointed out that since enactment of widespread helmet laws in the U.S., head injuries actually increased by 51% even though less cyclists were on the road. Canada is not likely much differenct... Bicyclesafe.com has a lot of well researched good information.

    Sometimes issues are a little beyond the surface and not all laws are well thought out. I.E.: In Edmonton all bicycle riders must signal with the arm before making a turn, and a bicycle rider must keep both hands on the handlebars at all times

  • My
    January 18, 2010 - 10:50

    Good to see APD cracking down on these hard core criminals.

  • My
    January 18, 2010 - 10:50

    Yep - the law is the law. Absolutely!

  • Hockey
    January 18, 2010 - 10:49

    Hey My Thought!!!
    The law is the law...
    Just like seat belts, speed limits, stop signs, etc...
    Why should my tax dollars go to the hospital care of someone who is injured
    in a way that could have been prevented
    by obeying these simple laws & others like them?
    People don't have the sense to take care of themselves, so laws need to be implemented to protect the rest of us from people that make bad decisions for

  • RAS
    January 18, 2010 - 10:42

    Francis, I think these things are great. It's good to see they allowded the stadium to be used so the event could go rain or shine. I was not there but it would be nice if EHS and the AFD could get involved in these activities as well.
    (and perhaps they were).
    It's a shame that some adults just don't get the fact that this is about safety (visit the IWK) not making children criminals. perhaps these so called mature adults fell off their bicycle one or 2 too many times without their helmets on when they were little.
    keep up the good PR.

  • Billy Rae
    January 18, 2010 - 10:29

    yes the law is the law..wear a helmet or get a ticket. Period. If the rider is under 16, ticket the parent or guardian.