Starting Sunday, firefighters and police officers from participating agencies will reward children demonstrating safe bicycling habits with free ice cream.
Responders who observe young children seen wearing their helmets, riding safely and observing safety rules will provide them a coupon for a free reduced fat vanilla ice cream cone that can be redeemed at participating McDonalds locations.
“It’s a great way for them to recognize and reinforce positive safety behavior,” said Michelle Brooks, Safe Kids Pierce County coordinator.
Citing a 1989 study, Brooks said when kids are wearing helmets, the likelihood of them suffering a head injury decreased by 85 percent.
The National Safe Kids Campaign published an observational study in 2004 on helmet use among children ages 5 to 14. It can be found here.
(As an aside, I broke an elbow after catapulting over the handlebars almost two years ago and would encourage riders of any age to wear a helmet and parents to lead by example. I still experience joint pain and can imagine the outcome if I had not been hearing a helmet and had not been able to break the fall.)
There is no state law requiring helmet use, but some cities and counties, including Gig Harbor, Lakewood, Tacoma and unincorporated Pierce County, have local ordinances that require them. The full list is here.
As an example, Gig Harbor requires helmet use for all ages while bicycling in a public area, and violators can be fined up to $25. A parent or guardian may be cited for a violation for each child under the age of 16 found not wearing a helmet. A judge can waive, reduce or suspend the penalty if a person has not been cited within one year.
Participating agencies in Pierce County are:
• Central Pierce Fire and Rescue
• DuPont fire and police departments
• East Pierce fire and Rescue
• Fife Police Department
• Fircrest Police Department
• Gig Harbor fire and police departments
• Lakewood Police Department
• Sumner Police Department
• Tacoma Police Department
• West Pierce Fire & Rescue