CEDAR FALLS – Now there’s another reason kids wear helmets when biking in Cedar Falls.
Public Safety Officers are handing out coupons for free small ice cream cones to those who have one as part of the ‘Cover Your Cones’ campaign with 4 Queens Dairy Cream to promote safe cycling etiquette.
This is the second year of the partnership with the glacier at 1310 W. First St. And captain Jeff Sitzmann said the department has already sold out about half the tickets after starting with more than 200.
“It’s a great idea for any community,” he said. “Cycling safety is a top priority, especially in ours, because of the miles and miles of bike paths. We see a lot of children on bikes with their families. A helmet can help prevent an injury or reduce its severity.
About 10 bicycle-related accidents occur each year in Cedar Falls, according to Sitzmann, and they don’t always involve a vehicle.
It encourages people to be “defensive drivers” by preparing for a car that won’t stop or see them and to exercise an extra level of caution. “That doesn’t mean you should be afraid to ride a bike,” he noted.
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Sitzmann advises parents to always check that their child’s helmet fits properly. To do this, put the headset on and rock it back and forth to make sure it doesn’t move significantly. After that, grab the bottom of the chin strap and if you can only get one or two fingers through the strap, the kid is good to go.
The Public Security Department also reminds all trail users to follow certain instructions:
- Stay on designated trails.
- Keep dogs under control and on a leash of six feet or less (always clean up after your pets).
- Help keep trails clean and pristine.
- Teach children not to run in front of cyclists and to always be alert.
- Cyclists should keep to the right and shout when overtaking.
Sitzmann said that over the past decade he has seen a significant increase in the number of people wearing helmets due to growing awareness of their benefits.
In an effort to help monitor trails and other areas to ensure a safe experience for all users, some officers will be seen riding a bicycle in bright yellow shirts bearing the words “Bike Patrol”.
After a contentious Waterloo City Council meeting, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald’s $165,000 salary was approved.
Sitzmann said Cedar Falls has eight bike patrollers certified by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Although they are often seen on the trails, he noted that it was more common to see them at big events like the Sturgis Falls celebration and the Northern Iowa University homecoming or downtown.
The campaign is more important now that school is winding down. Children may also be more inclined to ride bikes — instead of being driven by an adult in a car — due to rising gas prices, Sitzmann pointed out.
“We would like to thank 4 Queens Dairy Cream,” he said. “They have been a great sponsor. They don’t have to, but they know how important it is to promote safety within our community.