The weather is warming up which means bicycle season is near. To keep the province’s children and youth safe, as of May 1, 2013 everyone under the age of 18 will be required to wear a bike helmet when they’re cycling, riding as a passenger or being pulled by a bike.
“We want to see Manitoba kids and youth stay active and safe by ensuring they wear a helmet while cycling,” said Rondeau. “We also want to help Manitoba families by providing them with the tools they need to understand the importance of wearing a helmet and make it more affordable by making bicycle helmets PST exempt.”
First-time offenders not wearing a helmet can have the fine waived if they complete a unique bicycle helmet safety course. The course includes a new bike helmet video and questions related to bike helmet safety. If the course is completed, the ticket will be dismissed.
Under amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, a ticket can be issued to parents or guardians if they do not ensure their children wear suitable protective helmets, although youth aged 14 to 18 years of age may be ticketed directly.
Every year in Manitoba, about 160 cyclists end up in hospital from cycling-related injuries and several accidents result in serious injury or death. About 40 per cent of cycling injuries happen to children. Wearing a helmet while cycling can reduce the chance of serious head and brain injury by more than 85 per cent in the event of a crash.
The new law was developed after consultation with cycling and injury prevention experts as well as law enforcement agencies. A number of other Canadian jurisdictions have implemented bicycle helmet legislation, but Manitoba is the only province to make an education component part of the process to dismiss the ticket for a first offence.
The online safety course and video will be available as of May 1 on the Manitoba Injury Prevention website www.manitoba.ca/healthyliving/hlp/bikesafety. For those without Internet access, the course is available in printed form and can be obtained by calling 1-866-788-3648 (toll-free).