PEI

Bicycle helmet crackdown in Charlottetown

Charlottetown police are making a concerted effort this summer to go after cyclists who are not wearing a helmet.
It is not difficult to find people cycling around Charlottetown without a helmet. (CBC)

Charlottetown police are making a concerted effort this summer to go after cyclists who are not wearing a helmet.

Cyclists not wearing a helmet in Charlottetown can face fines of $175, but that hasn't convinced Melissa Laviolette to put one on.

Kenneth Murnaghan suffered a serious brain injury when he went over the handlebars of his bicycle when he was 10. (CBC)

"I just don't want something on my head, I guess, besides my hat," said Laviolette.

"I find it really heavy, but I guess it's my own fault if I fall and get hurt."

The law was put in place to prevent serious brain injuries, and the Brain Injury Association of Prince Edward Island is urging cyclists to pay attention to it. Association president Kenneth Murnaghan went over the handlebars of his bicycle more than 40 years ago, when he was 10. The accident left him with a serious brain injury.

"It prevented me from taking an active part in the community," said Murnaghan.

Police are using a carrot and stick approach, ticketing cyclists but also handing out coupons for free coffee to those wearing helmets. This summer there will be an increased emphasis on tickets.

"Everybody will be on the lookout but on each shift there will be an officer in charge of the bicycle helmet legislation," said deputy police chief Gary McGuigan.

Last summer 39 tickets were issued to those refusing to put on a helmet, but with increased enforcement more are expected this summer.

Cyclists issued tickets can avoid paying the fine by attending a diversion program.

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