BALLSTON SPA – Milton Summer Camp kids received new bicycle helmets and ice cream coupons at the kick-off of the annual Safe Summer Bike Helmet Program.
The Safe Summer Bike Helmet program, founded by Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, kicked off for its 24th year Wednesday at the Milton Summer Camp in Ballston Spa.
The program encourages kids to wear their bicycle helmets for safety. This year the program will distribute 5,000 “good tickets” redeemable for a free ice cream cone to children who are found wearing their helmets while bike riding, skateboarding and rollerblading. 24 Capital Region law enforcement agencies taking part in the program this year and are rewarding children they see wearing their helmets with the ice cream coupons. Free helmets are given to children who do not have one through the program as well.
“Its summertime and for many children that means enjoying two things: ice cream and bike riding,” Tedisco said. “We want to encourage children, as well as adults to be safe when they recreate and I can’t think of a better way to do that then by offering kids a free ice cream cone for doing the right thing and wearing a helmet.”
The coupons for free ice cream are donated from Stewart’s Shops, Hayner’s Ice Cream Hall of Fame in Halfmoon, Ben & Jerry’s and Friendly’s. The law firm of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti LLP donated hundreds of new bike helmets to police departments in Saratoga, Schenectady, Fulton, Hamilton and Herkimer County to give to children who need them.
Milton supervisor Scott Ostrander was at the kick off event and spoke about how he was a police officer at the start of the program 24 years ago.
“As soon as we gave out one of these tickets, they would be petrified because they thought they were in trouble,” Ostrander said. “We would get out and I would say you’re getting a good ticket because you have your helmet on. Go tell your parents you were stopped by the police. Before you know it, they must have told their friends because we had 150 kids looking for ice cream tickets. It’s just a joy and a great program.”
New York law requires children up to age 14 must wear a bike helmet or parents could face a $50 fine. The New York State Department of Health reports bicycle-related incidents are the number one cause of head injuries in children in the state. The average charge for a hospital stay because of a bike-related brain injury is $23,000 and in New York annual hospitalization charges related to care for people with a bike-related brain injury is $20 according to the department of health.
“Street safety for us is something that just last week we took a really good look at with Ballston Spa Central School District,” Ballston Spa mayor Frank Rossi Jr. said. “Republican, Democrats, Independents, it didn’t matter this was one of the most unifying meetings we’ve had since I’ve taken office as mayor. Politics be darned at that point they want safety for the streets.”
Summer campers received new helmets and about 40 campers rode their bikes in circles at Burgess Kimball Memorial Park Wednesday before each receiving a scoop of Stewart’s Ice Cream to enjoy on the 90 degree day.
“We look forward to this event each year, and fully support this important safety initiative,” Stewart’s Shops Director of public affairs Erica Komoroske said. “Bike safety is important for people of all ages, especially children. If Stewart’s ice cream can encourage kids to bike safely we think its pretty sweet.”