A pilot program promoting bicycle safety and awareness has been launched in Nowra.
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South Coast Police District has teamed with Roads and Maritime Services to present the program aimed at reducing road trauma and at the same time promoting road safety to the region’s young riders.
And participants in the program will also get a free bike helmet.
Nowra Police Station Inspector Ray Stynes said the aim of the program was to make young riders more aware of road safety and the importances of wearing a helmet.
“Our officers often stop and talk to kids riding bikes without helmets or those who aren’t wearing their helmet properly,” he said.
“It is an offence not to wear an approved helmet. Those caught can be issued with an infringement notice [fine].”
The fine is $330.
“From now on those caught riding without a proper helmet will be issued with a card instead of an infringement notice,” Insp Stynes said.
“That card provides the contact details of our Youth Liaison Officer and the onus is on the child to contact the YLO and come in and participate in the road safety program.
“By doing the program they will also be entitled to a new helmet.”
The stunning helmets has been designed by Aboriginal RMS staff member Mark Hartwig.
If the child does not contact the YLO within 21 days of being issued the card, they will receive an infringement notice.
RMS Aboriginal Engagement Manager Bobbi Brodie said the pilot program was as much about education as safety.
“It’s the first time the Aboriginal Engagement Section of RMS has teamed up with the NSW Police for such a program,” he said “especially about bike and road safety.
“It’s great to launch the program here in on the South Coast and in particular in the Shoalhaven.”
He said the pilot would see a combining of resources of the NSW Police’s RISEUP program and RMS’ Bring The mob Home Safely programs.
“The program is not limited to just Aboriginal kids, it’s open to all kids,” Mr Brodie said.
“The Shoalhaven has a high population of Aboriginal people and youth unemployment here is among the highest in the state. Combined with a number of disadvantaged families, some just can’t afford proper bike helmets or a helmet at all.
“This is about education on road safety but also reducing road trauma.”
Insp Stynes said kids often don’t realise that an unpaid infringement notice could have an ongoing affect on their lives.
“It can hamper their chances of getting a licence, furthering their education and even getting a job or being able to get to work,” Insp Stynes said.
“As a whole most kids are doing the right thing when riding their bikes, including wearing approved helmets properly.
“But we do have some who still don’t wear helmets.
“There is not point having a helmet and not wearing it properly or having it hang off your handle bars. It’s not going to protect you there.”
The Nowra station has already been provided with 150 helmets which at this stage will be distributed across the Nowra and Huskisson sectors.
“We will run the program through until the end of the Christmas holidays,” Insp Stynes said.
“If it proves as popular and successful as we believe it will be, we will roll out similar programs up and down the coast. I believe once we start seeing a few of these helmets out on the roads being worn by kids the program will take off.”
Participants in the course will learn about road rules, safety including how to properly fit a helmet and the repercussions of not wearing a helmet.
“If kids have a helmet they are more likely to wear it,” Insp Stynes said.
He said there are also moves at gaining access to skating helmets and to possibly run a similar program but taking the message to the local skate parks in Nowra, Huskisson and Sanctuary Point
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