WESTFIELD, NJ — Bicyclists in Westfield are being rewarded for their safety as “Caught Wearing A Helmet” ambassadors are stopping riders wearing helmets to give them coupons for free prizes.
Developed by the recently formed Bike Safety Task Force consisting of students, parents and several council members, the campaign started this past weekend, the task force announced.
“We wanted to reward bikers for following the rules and wearing their helmets, which we thought would help spread our message of bike safety across town and inspire bikers of all ages to wear their helmets,” said Councilman David Contract, one of the task force co-leaders, in a news release.
Contract noted that the task force isn’t sharing the specific date or time that the Caught Wearing a Helmet Program is running because the group wants it to be an unexpected surprise when someone is stopped wearing a helmet.
Bike riders who are “caught” wearing helmets get free prizes, such as a free slice of pizza, a free cup of coffee or bagel or a free slushie, organizers said.
Any bike rider wearing a helmet who posts a picture of themselves with their helmet and coupon here on the Town’s website will be entered to win the Grand Prize, which is a free bike valued at $500, organizers said.
Jay’s Cycle Center, Outta Hand Pizza, Manhattan Bagel and the Amaco station in Westfield are donating the prizes for the program, according to the organizers.
Under New Jersey law, youths under 17 must wear helmets; if they do not, their parents may face fines.
Local youths Murray Topilow and Joseph Slingerland have also crafted a series of videos posted to the town’s website emphasizing helmet safety explaining among other things why you should not use your cell phone while riding and how to properly wear a helmet.
The story continues below the video.
“When riding your bike not only is it important to wear your helmet, it is important to have it on the correct way,” Topilow says in one of the videos. “You don’t want it too far down to the point where you can’t see anything or so far up where your forehead is exposed.”
Councilman Mike Dardia, chairman of the council’s public safety committee, noted that the program comes amid an increase in bicycling during the pandemic.
“It’s great that there’s been a significant increase in bike riding in town as a result of COVID-19,” Dardia said in the release. “The Bike Safety Task Force wants to help spread awareness about unsafe biking practices, especially adults and kids not wearing helmets — which is dangerous and, in some cases, against the law.”
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