MAKING HEADWAY: program touts helmet use

Nancy
Nancy MacPhee
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SUMMERSIDE - Trevor Birt knows what can happen when a bicycle helmet isn't worn.
The police constable had been called to a collision involving a young cyclist, where the young boy died as result of a head injury.
He wasn't wearing a helmet.
"He was only 11-years-old," said the Summerside police officer.

Summerside police Const. Trevor Birt, second right, gets tips on how to properly wear his bicycle helmet from Sally Lockhart of the Island Network for Injury Prevention. Looking on are Corey Peters, left, of OK Tire and Island Towing, and Summerside polic

SUMMERSIDE - Trevor Birt knows what can happen when a bicycle helmet isn't worn.
The police constable had been called to a collision involving a young cyclist, where the young boy died as result of a head injury.
He wasn't wearing a helmet.
"He was only 11-years-old," said the Summerside police officer.
Summerside, Kensington and Borden-Carleton police departments have joined forces with Charlottetown police for Operation Headway, a program aimed at increasing helmet law compliance and decrease bicycle-related head injuries.
Although P.E.I.'s mandatory bike helmet law has been in effect since July 2003 Summerside, police have yet to issue a fine.
"What we've been doing is giving verbal warnings to people riding without their helmets," he noted. "With Operation Headway, we hope that by giving tokens of appreciation for wearing helmets along with giving fines to those not wearing helmets, it will step up the awareness and will hit home."
Police will hand out ice cream tokens to cyclists wearing helmets and issue fines to those not complying with the law. Those fines range from $50 to $100.
"If you get a ticket, you're given a one-time opportunity to go to an education session to learn the importance of wearing a helmet," said Birt, who heads his department's four-person bicycle unit."That ticket will ultimately be pulled and you won't have to pay the ticket."
In 2004, 17 Islanders were hospitalized for serious cycling-related injuries.
Of those, 20 per cent sustained a brain injury of some sort.
"Frankly, brains can't be fixed," said Sally Lockhart of the Island Network for Injury Prevention and the Brain Injury Coalition of P.E.I.
"We know four out of five brain injuries from cycling can be prevented if all cyclists wore helmets. It's as simple as that."
OK Tire, Island Towing and Island EMS, whose personnel regularly respond to collisions, have come on board as reward sponsors.
"I see a lot of accidents - not a lot dealing with bicycles - but you see the results," said Corey Peters with OK Tire and Island Towing.
Peters never wore one growing up but ensures his young children strap on a helmet before getting on their bikes.
"We're attempting to get an estimate on what our current helmet-wearing rates are on the Island," said Lockhart.
Operation Headway runs throughout the summer.

Organizations: Island Network for Injury Prevention, Brain Injury Coalition of P.E.I.

Geographic location: SUMMERSIDE, Kensington, Borden-Carleton Charlottetown Iceland

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