Rewards target bike safety

FORT FRANCES—Most of the time, being stopped by an OPP officer is not something people look forward to.
But for kids riding their bikes in Fort Frances this summer, it could mean free ice cream as long as they are wearing their helmets.
The OPP, along with the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition and Dairy Queen, kicked off their summer program here Friday to encourage kids to stay safe by always wearing their helmets when riding their bikes.
Throughout the summer, officers on patrol will be carrying coupons for free “Blizzards” to give to children who are wearing helmets.
“[This program is] to promote a positive reinforcement for the kids in the Rainy River District,” RRVSC chairperson Grace Silander said.
“It’s promoting a safer environment for them, and hopefully it will reduce any brain injury that could occur from accidents that do occur from falls off a bicycle,” she added.
Riding a bicycle without a helmet is against the law for children under 18 in Ontario. The OPP can issue a ticket and if the child is under the age of 16, the parent is responsible.
Insp. Dave Lucas, detachment commander for the Rainy River District OPP, said they are looking at this program as an alternative to issuing tickets.
“Our officers will stop a child for not wearing their bike helmet and we will be issuing a letter to their parents promoting the fact that it is against the law,” Insp. Lucas said.
“The letter points out the possibility for injuries when not wearing a helmet and states the laws that are in place to ensure that kids are wearing them.”
“Hopefully what will happen is if there is one kid in the group that doesn’t have their helmet on, they will see the positive reward and the next time they are going to make a point to put on their helmet,” Insp. Lucas added.
He also said there seems to be concerns throughout the community around this issue.
“We are working with [the RRVSC] in response to the complaints that we have received of children not wearing their bike helmet,” Insp. Lucas said.
“It is not just members of the public, but it is others, like medical officials, who have brought it to our attention and they are concerned because of the possibilities of injuries.”
Silander said one of the best ways to encourage kids to wear their helmets is to lead my example.
“We should be urging parents to play the role model. That way, the kids can start the process of do as I do and not do as I say,” she remarked. “If mom and dad are not going to wear their helmets, kids are not going to feel that it is important for them.”
Bob Thomson, owner of the Dairy Queen here, said they are excited be able to encourage kids to be safe.
“Dairy Queen is happy to be involved in this program and kids love ‘Blizzards,’” he remarked.
(Fort Frances Times)