Campers show bike safety skills

Senator James Tedisco, center, leads campers of the Mayfield Summer Recreation program on a short bikeride at Mayfield High School during the Safety Summer Bike Helmet event on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

MAYFIELD — Campers of the Mayfield Summer Recreation program showed their bike safety skills Wednesday by wearing helmets while riding their bicycle or skateboard.

Sen. James Tedisco kicked off the Safe Summer Bike Helmet program with the incentive to wear a helmet and get a free ice cream cone. The program is geared toward Fulton, Hamilton and Herkimer counties to encourage children to wear their bike helmets for summer safety.

“It’s very important sometimes to recreate, to have exercise,” Tedisco said. “But it’s also important to do it safe.”

This year marks 21 years of Tedisco’s public safety program. He led campers on a short bike ride at Mayfield High School with everyone wearing their helmets, and Tedisco scooped free ice cream for the campers which was donated by Stewart’s Shops.

The initiative of the Safe Summer Bike Helmet program is to get children in the habit of wearing their helmets for safe biking while also promoting positive interaction between them and law enforcement.

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino hands campers "good tickets" for the Safe Summer Bike Helmets program. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

The program does this through the distribution of “good tickets” for free ice cream cones to those who are caught wearing their helmets while riding their bikes, skateboards or rollerblades, and gives free bike helmets to children who are caught without a helmet. This year the program has 5,000 “good tickets” to distribute. Hundreds of helmets have been donated to local police departments by the law firm Martin, Harding and Mazzotti LLP.

“They’re going to stop you on your bike and give you a ticket, but it’s going to be a good ticket,” Tedisco said. “It’s going to be a ticket for obeying the law if you have your helmet on.”

Sponsors of the program include Stewart’s Shops, Ben & Jerry’s, Friendly’s Ice Cream, Hayner’s Ice Cream Hall of Fame and Martin, Harding and Mazzotti, LLP.

Also there to promote bike safety were Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, village Mayor Jamie Ward, Gloversville Supervisor Charlie Potter, Gloversville Police Chief Marc Porter, Herkimer County Undersheriff Scott Scherer, Mayfield Central School District Superintendent Jon Peterson, Ron Orlando from Martin, Harding and Mazzotti LLP and Stewart’s Shop spokesperson Max Spritzer.

“It’s a wonderful program that promotes safety for the children, fosters relationships among youth and law enforcement agencies and who doesn’t like a little bit of ice cream too,” Spritzer said.

Senator James Tedisco, left, poses in photo with campers of the Mayfield Summer Recreation program, Gabriella Gliewe, Wyatt Gliewe, Counselor Bailey Ward, Davion Hudson and Labron Hudson, right, during the Safe Summer Bike Helmet event at the Mayfield High School on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Orlando said as an attorney at Martin, Harding and Mazzotti LLP, he helps people who have been in accidents and has seen how bad injuries can be.

“All you guys and gals out there, in the same way as when you get into your car, you automatically put your seatbelt on, make it automatic when you get on your bike or on your skateboard or on your scooter that you put your helmet on,” Orlando said. “You’ll be doing that beautiful head of yours a favor.”

Porter said the Gloversville police are well-stocked with both the tickets and the bike helmets.

“The safety of our children is a top priority. The Safe Summer Bike Helmet program allows law enforcement to positively reinforce youngsters in our community practice bicycle safety while also providing less fortunate children with bike helmets,” Porter said. “This positive interaction between law enforcement and our children helps fulfill strong relationships within our community.”

In the state, if children up to age 14 are caught without a helmet while riding a bicycle, parents could face a $50 fine. According to the New York State Department of Health, an average of 54 New Yorkers are killed each year in bicycle crashes and 19,000 residents are treated at a hospital due to bike-related injuries.

Campers of the Mayfield Summer Recreation program listen to Senator James Tedisco speak on the Safe Summer Bike Helmet program at the Mayfield High School on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Tedisco said head injuries are the leading cause of death and permanent disability in bicycle crashes. A bike helmet costs about $20 and the average cost for a hospital bill due to a bicycle related brain injury is about $23,000.