Safe Cycling for Kids

As the weather warms and the snow melts away, we think of outdoor activities. One of the most popular activities for kids is riding a bicycle. Most people can remember the feeling of whizzing down the street with the wind in our face as we experience the freedom of riding a bicycle on our own. Sadly, cycling can also be hazardous, particularly when not wearing a helmet. Statistics Canada reports that from 1994 through 2012, 1,408 cyclists died in crashes. The positive news is that this total is less than the period from 1980 to 1994 where there were 1,665 cyclist deaths. More promising is the impact of helmets saving kids’ lives. In the 1980 to 1994 period, 57% of the deaths involved people younger than age 20, compared with 30% of the more recent block of time. This reduction in young people dying correlates with increased helmet use by young people. In 2013/2014 the estimated 12 million cyclists aged 12 or older, 5 million or 42% reported “always” wearing a helmet. Twenty years ago, helmet use was much less common. In 1994/1995 19% of those show had cycled in the past 3 months “always” wore a helmet, compared with 45% in 2013/2014.

Dr. Patricia Parkin, SickKids Senior Associate Scientist reviewed the stats in Ontario over a 12 year period and found that after the law making helmets mandatory for children under the age of 18 in 1995, cycling deaths of children in Ontario decreased 52 per cent – from 13 to 6 deaths annually (http://www.sickkids.ca/AboutSickKids/Newsroom/Past-News/2008/SickKids-scientists-confirm-Ontario-bike-helmet-law-saves-lives%20.html).

There is no question that every child should be wearing a helmet when cycling. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) is trying to change this and ensure that every child has a helmet to wear when cycling. OTLA’s Helmets on Kids program was initiated in the London area in 2002. It was started as a joint project of OTLA and the Brain Injury Association of London and Region and presented helmets to students. Since its inception, the Helmets on Kids campaign has expanded across Ontario and has presented over 40,000 helmets to children in need. (https://www.otla.com/index.cfm?pg=BikeHelmetsForKids)

The law in Ontario requires that every person under 18 years of age must wear a helmet when cycling. More importantly, helmets save lives. We should all encourage children and youth to wear helmets whenever they ride their bicycles. We should set a good example and always wear a helmet when we ride our bicycles. Together we can make a meaningful difference and hopefully save at least one child from death or serious injury.

Kris Bonn
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Kris focuses on helping people who have suffered serious personal injuries, car crash victims and long-term disability claims. Kris also helps people who are facing impaired driving and over 80 related criminal charges. Kris has successfully argued cases before juries, judges and the Court of Appeal in Toronto. Kris is active in the community as a Director of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and the local Brain Injury Association Quinte District. He is a member of the Hastings County Law Association and the Advocates Society. He supports local charities, including the Trenton and Belleville Hospital Foundations.