THE Selinger government has picked May 1 as the date cyclists under 18 must wear a proper helmet or risk a $50 fine, depending on their age.
The bicycle-helmet law is aimed at getting more young people to protect themselves from head injuries due to minor spills.
Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau said Wednesday the law also aims to get more parents wearing a helmet when riding with their kids and to educate other adults about the preventive benefits of helmet use while biking.
The province says wearing a helmet while cycling can reduce the chance of serious head and brain injury more than 85 per cent.
"A lot of kids have non-contact accidents," Rondeau said. "They hit a bump, they fall and they hit their head. This law prevents those injuries.
"But more and more people are wearing bike helmets. I hope this gets the numbers from 30 and 40 per cent to over to 50 and 60 per cent. It's a continued evolution."
Though the law requires all Manitobans under 18 to wear a helmet when cycling or riding in anything attached to or towed by a bicycle, it says children under 14 will not be ticketed or fined. However, a ticket can be issued to parents or guardians if they do not ensure their children wear suitable protective helmets.
First-time offenders caught not wearing a helmet can have the fine waived if they complete an online bicycle-helmet safety course. The course includes a bike-helmet video and questions related to bike-helmet safety. If the course is completed, the ticket will be dismissed.
The province also picked May 1 as the date bicycle helmets would be exempt from the provincial sales tax, which will rise one percentage point to eight per cent July 1.
But the May 1 date was not communicated to retailers, Retail Council of Canada Prairie region director Lanny McInnes said.
In a bulletin outlining taxation changes in the new budget, the province told them to prepare for July 1, McInnes said. He said retailers only learned of the May 1 helmet-exemption date through Rondeau's news release, not from a Finance Department bulletin.
McInnes said retailers who sell bicycle helmets now have a short window and an additional cost to adjust their systems to the earlier date.
-- Bruce Owen
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