Police cracking down on bike helmets

Fort Frances OPP has begun the second stage of its bicycle safety program here—and that means discipline for kids who are seen riding their bikes without helmets.
Over the past year, the OPP has been doling out coupons for McDonald’s ice cream cones to kids spotted wearing their helmets. Their names also were entered into a draw for $100 (a prize that was awarded three times last summer).
The bike safety program, spearheaded by the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition, aims at increasing awareness—for both children and their parents—of the importance of wearing a helmet.
“I think, personally, that if the parents are more aware of the reasons for helmet use, they would be more inclined to make their kids wear them,” said Fort Frances OPP Cst. Caroline Spencer.
This year, the police have continued with the ice cream initiative, dubbed “Safety Scoops,” as well as held bike rodeos at all of the area schools.
Cst. Spencer believes they now have reached as many children as possible, and therefore there is no excuse for them not to be wearing their helmets.
Thus begins the disciplinary stage.
“If you’re caught not wearing your bike helmet, you will be taken home and your parents will be told,” warned Cst. Spencer.
She is not interested in fining every child who is not wearing a helmet—but that’s not to say there won’t be charges laid, she stressed.
“If I have to stop the same kid a number of times a day, then charges will probably have to be laid,” Cst. Spencer said. “Somebody has to be charged to get the point across.”
The law states anyone under the age of 18 must wear a bike helmet. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds can be charged $65, plus a $15 victims of crime surcharge, if caught biking without a helmet.
If parents knowingly allow children under the age of 16 to bike on the road without a helmet, they’re the ones who would be charged.
Cst. Spencer recognized there’s peer pressure on kids to not wear helmets.
“I ask the kids, ‘Do you think I look cool in my helmet?’ No,” she said. “But does it protect my head? Yes.”