Kim Lombard knows all too well the importance of bike helmets.
As Injury Prevention Coordinator for Mayo Clinic’s Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center, she stresses the significance of using a correctly fitted bike helmet to prevent serious head and brain injuries.
In recent years, 76% of the pediatric patients who were hospitalized at Mayo Clinic because of a bicycle-related traumatic injury were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash,” says Lombard. “Wearing helmets can decrease the chances of sustaining a serious head injury in a bike crash by as much as 80 percent. With distracted driving at such a high rate, it’s imperative to take extra precautions to reduce risk,” says Lombard.
That is why Mayo Clinic’s Pediatric Trauma Center was eager to provide support to a new program in Rochester the helps distribute helmets and teach bike safety to youth in the community. It’s called the “Cops and Kids Bike Program.”
Rochester police officer Doug Remling would often stop to talk with kids while on patrol in local neighborhoods.
“I would help repair a flat tire, fix a chain, or adjust a bike to fit better. The word started to spread, and more kids wanted help. Soon we were collecting parts, tools and safety equipment in a storage garage at our precinct. The idea to expand the outreach into a larger community program began to grow from there,” Remling says.
The Cops and Kids Bike Program started in spring of 2018. The program brings a trailer equipped with tools, bicycle parts, bikes, and safety equipment, as well as friendly and informative members of the Rochester Police Department Community Action Bike Team to parks and events throughout Rochester over the summer months. The officers help repair bikes, give out helmets and bikes to kids who need them, and help spread the word about bicycle safety to help keep kids and families safe. So far, officers have given 35 helmets to local kids.
The program is more than about bikes and safety; it’s also a way for Police officers to build trust with neighborhood kids and their families while also promoting bicycle safety and physical exercise, according to Jim Marsolek, an officer with Rochester Police Department’s Community Action Bike Team.
“We want to model and inspire safe bike riding as great physical activity for area kids,” Marsolek says. “And we also want the program to grow. We’ve been at twenty events this summer so far and there’s much more to do – we want to reach kids and families living in each Rochester neighborhood.”