I think maybe–just maybe–this never-ending winter has finally come to an end. The snow is almost gone and temperatures are rising to the double digits. With the warmer weather comes more kids out on the streets riding bicycles. In Ontario, kids are required to wear helmets when cycling on public roads. This law has been in place since 1995. Unfortunately, there are still too many kids riding the streets without the required protection. A 2012 Globe and Mail article estimated that in Ontario only 34% of cyclists actually wear helmets. The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) is trying to help with its “Bike Helmets on Kids” safety initiative.
The Bike Helmets for Kids was started by OTLA in 2002. The program distributes helmets to kids across Ontario. The first event was held in London, Ontario. Since the first event, OTLA has given out more than 19,000 helmets to kids. OTLA’s goal is to put a helmet on every child who needs one in Ontario. In addition to providing helmets, OTLA partners with local associations and community groups to provide education and awareness about bicycle helmet use, the importance of wearing a helmet and how to properly fit a helmet.
Local OTLA members generously give their time and money both to organize and fund the distribution of the helmets.
While the law in Ontario does not require adults to wear helmets when cycling, every adult should also wear a helmet. Not only is this a good practice for your own safety, more importantly it sets a good example for the children out their riding their bicycles. Remember that actions speak louder than words. If we want our kids to be safe when cycling, we should practice what we preach.
This spring make a commitment to ensure that you wear a helmet when cycling and, if you have a child, to make sure your child wears a helmet. If you are interested in learning more about the OTLA Bike Helmets for Kids program and if there is a program running in your community, please contact OTLA at www.otla.com.
Contributed by Kris Bonn, and OTLA Director and a lawyer practising with Bonn Law Office in Trenton, Ont.