PEI

P.E.I. man thanks helmet wearers with tasty treats

Injured himself nearly 50 years ago, Kenneth Murnaghan has made it a crusade to provide yummy positive reinforcement for safety-minded Island bicyclists.

‘We shouldn't have to wait until somebody gets seriously injured or worse’

Shelley Hanson and her six-year-old daughter Rhivi Terry with their rewards for wearing a helmet. ‘We were both excited,' says Hanson. (Shelley Hanson/submitted)

Shelley Hanson and her six-year-old daughter still had their helmets on when they sat down for a treat after a long bike ride through the park. 

"This nice man came up to us," said Hanson. "He said he had started a program rewarding people for wearing their helmets. And there we were sitting, wearing our bike helmets.

"He handed us each a coupon for a free single scoop from Cows."

That man was Kenneth Murnaghan. He was just 10 when he suffered a brain injury nearly 50 years ago in a bicycle accident. 

We cannot stress enough how important that is.— Cst. Ron Kennedy, Charlottetown police

"I was going to the co-op for my grandmother to get her some doughnuts," said Murnaghan. "I flipped over the handlebars and bounced off a car and bounced down to the street.… In the hospital, I wasn't expected to live.

"I guess you could say it's sort of my calling, to advocate for bicycle helmets."

Fewer cyclists die when wearing helmets 

Murnaghan has been working to educate people on the topic for over a decade. He said he reaches out to various companies on the Island to ask if they want to contribute a reward. This year, Murnaghan said Cows, Dairy Queen, Timothy's World Coffee and The Kettle Black are all on board. 

"I'm mystified, you know, why people would even drive a bike or a skateboard or whatever without a helmet," he said. "I don't really know what the answer is."

I'll be the first to remind them they should be wearing a helmet.— Shelley Hanson

According to Statistics Canada, among cyclists involved in fatal events, only 13 per cent were wearing a helmet and 44 per cent of those killed were under the age of 20.

"We've had several cases over the years where people have been injured and suffered life-changing injuries as a result of not wearing bicycle helmets," said Const. Ron Kennedy of the Charlottetown police.

"We cannot stress enough how important that is."

'I fail to see the wisdom'

It's not just bicycles. Kennedy said you should be wearing one on any device that moves. This includes scooters, skateboards and in-line skates.  

"What I do see is a lot of people having their helmets with them on a bike, but not wearing them," said Kennedy. "I fail to see the wisdom behind that." 

According to Section 194 (2) (a.1) of the P.E.I. Highway Traffic Act, anyone who is riding a bicycle must "wear a bicycle safety helmet that complies with the regulations and shall have the chin strap of the helmet securely fastened."

As for Hanson, she said that in her family, safety is non-negotiable. 

"I'll be the first to remind them they should be wearing a helmet," she said.

"We shouldn't have to wait until somebody gets seriously injured or worse." 

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