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Cyclist Safety in Burlington

A recent study says bike-related head injuries have increased in U.S. and Canadian cities that have bike share programs.
Burlington, Vt.- "My bike is my freedom,” said Local Motion’s Director for Advocacy and Education Jason Van Drieshe. “It's my way to get out, be active, have fun."

It's no secret that a lot of people in Burlington share Jason’s enthusiasm for cycling.

"This is a good city to bike if you're a confident and enthusiastic bike rider,” Van Drieshe said.

But being too confident could come at a price.

A recent study from Washington State University says bike-related head injuries increased by 14 percent in U.S. and Canadian cities that have bike share programs.

Researchers say this is because most programs don't provide helmets.

"A helmet is like your seat belt in your car,” Van Drieshe said. The most important thing for staying safe in a car is not getting in a wreck. If you do, you want to make sure you're wearing your seat belt. Same with biking."

Burlington's bike-share program can be found on the University of Vermont campus. The Bike User's Group, or BUG, is run by the university, but is open to the public, and is never short on spare helmets.

"We're the ones that ask them if they want helmets,” said UVM Information Desk Assistant Allie Carey. “So a lot of them say no. I don't know if they don't think they look cool or whatever, but we always offer."

BUG isn't the only group trying to keep cyclists safe.

"We're working in conjunction with local motion, to step up enforcement, especially with bicyclists following traffic laws,” said Officer Emily Healy. “Stop signs, having lights on their bikes at night. We'll also be stepping up enforcement of motor vehicle violations, just to keep everyone safe."

Local Motion is a cycling group based in Burlington. Members raise awareness about bike safety by posting flyers around the city with the Do's and Don'ts of the road.

If you are caught violating the rules of the road, you could be slapped with a fine of up to $70.

You can find more information on preventing bicycle accidents at www.safestreetsVT.org.

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