Zeeland to give free bicycle helmets to kids

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kid-bike

Everytime I see parents with unprotected small children on their bikes, sometimes two, or when I see small children riding hard and recklessly in traffic without helmets, I cringe. And everytime single time I have brought this up at parties, the Dutch tell me to shut up because they know better and that no one gets hurt since they were all born on bikes.

If that really was the fantasy world we lived in, then handing out 35,000 free helmets to children in Zeeland would be a total waste of money, right? Over the next five years, the Zeeuws Coördinatiepunt Fiets (ZCF) in the province of Zeeland will be doing just that, handing out free bicycle helmets to stop children from getting injured or killed.

Last year, the emergency wards in Zeeland treated 4,000 children up to age 17 for head injuries. On an annual basis, 10 to 15 children under age 13 die in traffic riding bikes. About 20,000 children between age 0 and 12 get treated in hospitals as a result of a traffic acccident.

Imagine your cute kid dying because you think no one gets hurt on bikes. Blame all the cars? Write off Zeeland as a ‘different’ part of the country?

And then, the best argument of them all: snowboarders and mountainbikers use cool, hip helmets, what’s wrong with doing so on your bike? It’s not ‘tradition’? The statistics are wrong? Kids just don’t really get hurt?

Bravo Zeeland!

(Link: ad.nl, Photo: holcus.nl)

5 Comments »

  1. I wholeheartedly agree! The problem is, that most kids think it’s not cool to wear a helmet. They just refuse to wear them. My 13 yr old rides his bike to school every single day, 25 min. there and back, and I try not to think about what could go wrong.

    My youngest is 9, and was given a mountainbike for his birthday recently. To my surprise he stated that he now wanted a helmet to go with the bike. So we went searching for one, and all we could find were Winnie the Pooh or Snowwhite helmets.5 shops later we finally found a flashy red helmet. It cost an arm and a leg, but I’m so glad he’s wearing it, I don’t care.

    And I am Dutch…

    Jacqueline

    Comment by Jacqueline — April 2, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

  2. Compulsory reading: http://www.tobysterling.net/2007/12/bike-accident-deaths-in-amsterdam-and.html

    Comment by Branko Collin — April 3, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

  3. Imagine your cute kid dying because you think no one gets hurt on the sidewalk. Do you want him to wear a helmet while walking? No? Why not?

    Because it’s uncomfortable. One of the main reasons the Dutch like cycling so much is because it’s (pretty) comfortable. Mandatory helmets will take that advantage away, and with obesity figures (and gas prices) as they are, I don’t think that’s a good idea.

    Comment by Niels — February 18, 2010 @ 1:15 am

  4. It’s as easy to get used to wearing a helmet on a bicycle as a pair of shoes on your feet. Human nature what it is we resist, knowing full well it is always someone else who get the head injury or killed.

    Free helmets is a good approach to social change as opposed to mandated by law. Of course, free is not “free” – the taxpayer buys but it – but this approach is less of an affront to a culture that resists recognizing the risk. Bravo. It will take time, likely a generation but that’s ok.

    Comment by Neil — February 18, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

  5. It’s simple, actually: There are head injuries in car crashes too, so it seems fair to promote driving helmets along with cycling helmets. But, ha ha, no way Jos√©, the automobile industry would quickly threaten any politician who proposed doing this, because it would make driving seem dangerous.

    Please think holistically.

    Comment by Todd Edelman — June 29, 2010 @ 10:26 am

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