Crackdown planned on bicycle helmets

By Ed Brock

A pair of accidents between bicyclists and cars, one involving a 13-year-old boy who suffered serious injuries as a result, has led Jonesboro police to begin a crackdown on children who aren't wearing the proper safety gear.

All children under 16 must wear a helmet while bicycling, and Jonesboro police have already begun issuing warnings that young cyclists found not wearing helmets will be cited and sent to juvenile court, Jonesboro police Maj. Freeman Poole said.

And their parents will be cited too on a misdemeanor charge they will have to answer in Clayton County State Court, Poole said.

"I can't think of a more precious resource we have than our children," Poole said. "I already had one person ask me if the Jonesboro police don't have anything better to do. As a matter of fact, we don't."

And with summer vacation starting there will be many more children riding bicycles in the next three months, Poole said.

The accident involving the 13-year-old happened on May 23 on Jonesboro Road near the intersection with North Avenue, according to a police report. The youth, who was not wearing a helmet, rode out between two cars that were stopped at the intersection and was hit by a third car that was approaching the intersection.

The child suffered a broken jaw and broken collarbone along with other injuries and was taken to Egleston Children's Healthcare in Atlanta by helicopter ambulance but he was no longer a patient there as of Monday, according to a hospital spokesman.

On May 30, 38-year-old Daniel Hedou, also not wearing a helmet, ran into a car that was pulling into a driveway on Fayetteville Road and was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center with visible injuries, according to a Jonesboro police report.

Adults aren't required to wear helmets but they are recommended, Poole said.

At Tara Schwinn on Tara Boulevard in Jonesboro, owner Sammy Captino urges all of his customers to buy helmets.

"About 90 percent of the market, when I sell bikes, they buy a helmet," Captino said.

Children's helmets cost around $30 and adult helmets can cost around $35.

Poole also said the department plans to hold a bicycle rodeo and safety class in the future.