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Helmets mandatory for young cyclists as of May 1

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Cyclists under 18 will have to wear a bicycle helmet as of May 1 in Manitoba, the province said today.

Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau said the law will also cover children when riding as a passenger or being pulled by a bike.

First-time offenders caught not wearing a helmet can have the $50 fine waived if they complete an online bicycle helmet safety course. The course includes a video and questions related to bike helmet safety. If the course is completed, the ticket will be dismissed.

The online safety course and video will be available as of May 1 on the Manitoba Injury Prevention website: www.manitoba.ca/healthyliving/hlp/bikesafety.

The bike-helmet law states children under 14 will not be given a ticket or fine. It also gives police discretion if they're dealing with a first-time offence. However, a ticket can be issued to parents or guardians if they do not ensure their children wear a helmet, although youth aged 14 to 18 years of age may be ticketed directly.

Rondeau also said the recent budget made bicycle helmets PST exempt as of May 1.

The province says each year in Manitoba about 160 cyclists end up in hospital from cycling-related injuries and several collisions result in serious injury or death. About 40 per cent of cycling injuries involve children. Wearing a helmet while cycling can reduce the chance of serious head and brain injury by more than 85 per cent in the event of a crash.

Rondeau said the province is not considering a mandatory helmet law for adult cyclists.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 3:27 PM CDT: Adds quiz.

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