BONNERS FERRY — Warm summer days, the sound of sprinklers spitting cool water into the air, barbecues wafting savory smells through the neighborhood, giggling children pedaling their bicycles down the street ... but many of these children aren’t wearing helmets because it’s not “cool.”
Bonners Ferry Police Officer Chris Langan has found a way to make wearing bicycle helmets “cool”... ice cream cones.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 818 people were killed in bicycle related accidents in 2015.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states, “In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent.”
“We are just trying to prevent that, as much as we can,” said Langan. “Last year we had a couple of vehicle versus bicycle crashes, and that’s how it started out.”
During the months of July and August, the Bonners Ferry Police Department is handing out a coupon for a free kids ice cream cone from Super 1 Foods to children that are riding bicycles safely, with their helmet on. Not only limited to just bicycle helmets- children wearing their seatbelts, during routine traffic stops will also receive a coupon for a free ice cream cone.
“So how we started out was that Officer Chris Langan wanted to start a promotional program that would be a positive interaction with law enforcement, especially when it comes to the young people,” said Bonners Ferry Chief of Police Victor Watson. “I let him run with it, and together with Super 1, he’s got coupons that he gives out. It creates a positive contact with law enforcement so that kids aren’t scared of cops and it encourages wearing their helmets and their seat belts correctly.”
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Jeff Hamley, the Store Director of Super 1 Foods in Bonners Ferry. “If they are pulling someone over for a taillight or anything, and they see that the kids are buckled up, to be able to give the kids a free cone. I think it’s huge.”
For Hamley, the program is a great way to help out the community. Super 1 has been helping out since it opened, including the fundraiser for the Fourth of July fireworks this year. “I love the way that the community comes together in this town,” he said.
Watson states. “It will serve two purposes: it will emphasize safety and reward young kids for wearing their helmets, wearing their seatbelts, or being in their car seat appropriately.”
As for the children, out enjoying the summer on their bicycles, wearing a helmet just became “cool.”