The heavy, metal half-sphere drops to the ground with a thud, eliciting groans from the Grade 5 students sitting quietly a short distance away.
The Triax 2000, a mechanical/electronic machine that measures how much damage can be inflicted on an unprotected head in a crash, is part of the lesson on bicycle safety being given to View Royal elementary Grade 5 students.
After the kids get the message of the importance of wearing a helmet when riding their bikes – most weren’t aware their helmets should be replaced after seven years or less – they scamper off to grab their two-wheelers and prepare to ride an obstacle course set up on the school playground. West Shore RCMP officers, led by Const. Cole Brewer, lead the students through the mock traffic situations, using proper hand signals.
Asked what he learned on the day, student Tyler Vowles demonstrated a left-arm down motion: “You have to use the stop-hand signal if you’re going to stop,” he said. “And (helmets) can expire.”
Nick Brame, a West Shore RCMP auxiliary constable who will ride the 2015 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, said events such as this are a fun way for the students to learn good habits.
“Bike safety is one of the most important things we need to teach children,” he said. In suburban areas especially, there are numerous opportunities to ride, and to do so safely on trails and in bike lanes, he said. Catching children at a relatively young age, he said, offers a chance to make sure “they’re not picking up their parents’ bad habits.”
The timing was perfect for Tuesday’s activities, a joint initiative between Island Health and West Shore RCMP that helped mark Safe Kids Week, said school principal Rob Parker.
“As the weather warms up at this time of year, you definitely get an increase in the number of kids who are cycling, which is great, but we want to make sure they do it safely,” he said.
“As you can see, a lot of kids (at the school) have bikes and we all worry that they’re riding them safely. In this day and age, with traffic the way it is, it’s just super important to not only know the rules of the road, but … to wearing their helmet and wearing it correctly and making sure it’s not out date. It’s just a great afternoon for our students.”
He gave kudos to the Town of View Royal for putting money into bike lanes and trail systems – the E&N Rail Trail links this school and Shoreline middle school down the road – as a way to ensure safety for cyclists.
Find a list of other safe cycling tips at parachutecanada.org.