News Local

Helmets will soon be the rule

Lori Penner
Bike helmets will become mandatory in Manitoba for cyclists under 18.

Bike helmets will become mandatory in Manitoba for cyclists under 18.

There won't be any more biking with the wind in your hair. At least not for kids in Manitoba.

Under Bill 37, all cyclists under 18 will soon be required to wear a helmet.

"In the event of a crash, bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of death and serious head injury by as much as 90 per cent," said Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau.

Studies show that many children and youth are still not wearing helmets. From 2005 to 2009, 374 children were hospitalized for cycling-related injuries in Manitoba. Also, during this period, 54 children were hospitalized for a cycling-related head injury.

The proposed law would also require all passengers under 18 to wear helmets while riding in anything towed by a bicycle, including children's chariots.

The law does not apply to cyclists on private property or to skateboards or in-line skating.

Parents and guardians of kids on bikes - as well as cyclists over the age of 14 - who contravene the helmet law will be subject to fines of up to $50.

The bill is expected to pass as early as this spring but will not come into force until it's proclaimed by cabinet.

"I hope it passes quickly," says Altona police chief Perry Batchelor. "It's another good reason to be wearing a helmet."

Batchelor says he's impressed with the number of local cyclists who have been wearing helmets. "It almost looks like people are ahead of the curve."

He says the biggest influence is still in the hands of adults. "We need adults to wear them, too. Not only will this set an example for the kids, but it will prevent serious injury, not matter what age you are."