Bike helmet law aims to reduce injuries

Region offers tips to help riders cycle safely this summer

Region offers tips to help riders cycle safely this summer
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Tips for safe cycling

Bike helmets and the law

Manitoba Government's Bike Safety page

Help your kids have a safe summer ride

Bike Safe - A bicycle safety initiative of Manitoba Public Insurance

Active & Safe Kids Manitoba

Map of bike routes in Winnipeg

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013

With the cycling season around the corner, the Winnipeg Health Region is once again urging riders to reduce their risk of injury by wearing a helmet while biking this summer.

"Commuters, recreational cyclists and families are eagerly waiting to get on their bikes and ride," says Dr. Lynne Warda, Medical Director for the Region's Injury Prevention Program. "It's a great way to enjoy the warm weather summer and get some exercise."

But as the popularity of cycling rises, so to does the risk of serious injury, especially among children and youth.

Statistics from the Winnipeg Health Region show that there were 14 deaths and 910 hospitalizations due to cycling injuries in Winnipeg between 2000 and 2010, accounting for 7,756 hospital days. Of Canadians hospitalized or dying due to a cycling-related head injury, 80 per cent were not wearing a helmet when their injury occurred.

That's partly why the provincial government recently passed new legislation aimed at reducing the number of head injuries attributed to cycling accidents. Effective May 1, children and youth under 18 years of age will be required to wear a certified helmet when cycling and when riding on a bike carrier or in a bike trailer. 

Warda welcomed the move, saying the new law will help reduce injuries among Manitoba's young people.  

"Cycling injuries are a serious problem, with head injuries being potentially life altering or even fatal," says Warda. "The good news is that a properly fitted bike helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 to 88 per cent." 

The Region's Injury Prevention Program has been advocating for bike helmet legislation for several years, and has initiated a number of campaigns over that time to encourage helmet use, including providing free bike helmets to lower income families.

Under the new law, parents of children under the age of 14 could face a fine of up to $63 if their child rides their bike on a sidewalk or street without a helmet. Teens between 14 and 17 years will be fined directly. For the first offence, the parent or teen has the option of taking an online helmet safety course in lieu of paying a ticket. 

While adults are not covered under this new law, Warda says it is important to remember that everyone benefits from wearing a bike helmet. She also noted that parents who wear helmets can become important role models for their children.

"We support this new legislation as an important contribution to bike safety" says Warda, "and we recognize that safer infrastructure, other road safety measures such as speed reduction, and driver and cyclist training and education are also crucial in creating a safer cycling environment."

Tips for safe cycling

Wearing a bike helmet is one way of reducing the risk of injury while cycling. But there are other important safety measures you can take to help keep you and your family safe while enjoying the warm weather.

The information below is intended to help parents make safe choices in selecting outdoor equipment and ensure that they are using it safely.

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