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Suffredin Sponsors and Passes Bicycle Helmet Ordinance for the Forest Preserve District

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Special to

Forest Preserve District Commissioner Larry Suffredin, 13th District, sponsored an ordinance requiring children age 14 or under to wear a protective helmet while riding a bicycle on Forest Preserve District property. The law also applies to children riding in a restraining seat attached to a bicycle or in a trailer towed by a bicycle. The ordinance was co-sponsored by Commissioners Carl R. Hansen, Joan Patricia Murphy, and Mike Quigley and was approved by the Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, May 5, 2004.

The ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2005. In addition to requiring children to wear bicycle helmets, the ordinance directs the Forest Preserve District to (1) create and implement a bicycle safety education program and (2) develop a bicycle helmet rebate program to help ensure that parents can obtain or purchase a bicycle helmet for their child regardless of their economic situation.

A violation of the ordinance is an infraction punishable by the following: first violation will be a warning; second violation will be a fine of $10.00; and each additional violation will be a fine of $25.00. The parent or legal guardian having control or custody of an unemancipated minor age 14 or under whose conduct violates this ordinance shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor age 14 or under for the amount of the fine imposed. All fines collected will be deposited in a special account to be used for bicycle safety education and for assisting low-income families in obtaining approved bicycle helmets for their children.

The goal of the ordinance is to help reduce the risk of bike related head injuries and deaths. More children, age 5 to 14, go to United States hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with bicycles than any other sport.

"I hope this ordinance will help raise awareness of bicycle safety and increase the number of children and adults wearing bicycle helmets while cycling. While the ordinance applies specifically to children age 14 and under, I hope that parents will set an example for their children by also wearing a bicycle helmet will cycling in our Forest Preserves. Those parents and kids who already regularly wear bicycle helmets are to be commended for their attention to safety precautions," commented Commissioner Suffredin.

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