Bike Right, Bike Bright program provides free helmets and bike lights for kids

Children should always wear helmets while biking (SBG Photo)

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore.- The Cottage Grove Police Department, South Lane Fire & Rescue, and South Lane County Fire & Rescue Volunteer Association are teaming up to provide free bike helmets and bike lights for children and young teenagers.

The idea for the "Bike Right, Bike Bright" program sparked in December 2017.

A 13-year-old boy was struck and killed by a truck on Highway 99.

He wasn't wearing a helmet, and his bike didn't have lights or reflectors.

South Lane Fire & Rescue Captain Doug Lyda responded to the call, and he says he was motivated to make it easier for local children get helmets and bike lights.

"My end goal is to put a light on every kid in south Lane County," Lyda says.

If Cottage Grove Police see a child or teenager without a helmet, the officer will give them a citation.

Instead of paying it, the teenager's parents can go to the Cottage Grove Police station or South Lane Fire & Rescue station within five days of receiving the citation and exchange the citation for a helmet or pair of bike lights.

"It cancels out the citation to keep them safe. So that's our job, to make sure the kids are being safe," Cherie Nelson, Cottage Grove Police Community Service Officer says.

The program officially kicks off June 7. The Cottage Grove Police Department is collecting helmets, while South Lane Fire & Rescue Volunteers are collecting bike lights.

It's illegal for children under 16 to ride a bike without a helmet. All bikes, regardless of how old the rider is, must have a set of reflectors or lights.

"If we can prevent calls like that in the future, that would be the best," Annelies Cowan, a EMT and member of the South Lane Fire & Rescue Volunteer Association. "No one ever wants to get that call."

The Bike Right, Bike Bright program doesn't have an end-date. As long as the organizations have enough money to buy helmets and lights, they'll keep it going indefinitely.

Both departments have a limited supply of bike lights and helmets. They're looking for money donations and unused helmet donations.

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