Monday, August 6, 2012

Just Running Some Errands

Today was the first time since I started the TFWAH Campaign that I was out running errands and not specifically looking for TFWAH recipients (or choosing a route where I might likely see kids on bikes). Of course, that doesn't mean I wasn't prepared with a handful of dollars should I come across one...or four!

The first recipient was a teenage boy with his mom outside Fred Meyer. The bikes were new and they had purchased helmets at the same time. As an aside, I wish bike shops just included a helmet in the purchase of a bike. I'd say, both mom and kid were pleasantly surprised.

The next kid was a young boy riding on the Woodland Trail with his mom. He had just had his birthday and they were on their way to Olympic Cards and Comics to spend some birthday money. I said, "Now you have an extra buck to spend just for wearing a helmet!". He was pretty shy, but mom said thanks. Another aside here--seems like today was "Mom and Son on Bikes Day". I was riding with my son too! Also, it's great to see people using their bikes to get around instead of jumping in their cars!

The third and fourth recipients were two sisters riding along the Chehalis Western Trail. They were too young to be out alone. I asked a gentleman riding behind them if they belonged to him. He said no, the parents were walking behind him. I stopped at the parents and asked if I could give their daughters dollars for wearing helmets. They laughed and said, "Sure!". So I turned around and caught up to the girls. I told them their parents said it was okay and I gave them each a dollar. The mom said something like, "See, you SHOULD wear your helmet!"

In my brief experiences with this project, I've discovered girls are more wary of a stranger talking to them than boys. Case in point, as I was going to a meeting last night, I passed two girls, about 11 or 12 years old, riding along Boulevard. Both were wearing helmets so I stopped and waited for them to catch up. I asked them if they would each like a dollar for wearing their helmets. They said, "No thanks." and kept on going. I don't think they didn't want a dollar. I think they were just wary. I suppose that's a good thing...I will just continue to try to reward kids for wearing a helmet!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

7 Dollars in 42 Miles

Which, all things considered, is pretty good.

It was a pretty warm one today--probably one of the warmest days we've had all summer. I set out on the trail headed south. I didn't encounter my first "Thanks for Wearing a Helmet" recipient until just south of Rainier, which was about 14 miles into the ride. It's not that there were kids without helmets, there just weren't any kids out on the trail. There were lots of adults and I'd say about 3/4 of them were wearing helmets (pretty good). As I passed an older couple, I told them thanks for wearing a helmet. They responded with, "Of course!".

Anyway, as I was headed to Yelm from Rainier, I came across a little girl with her mom. Since the little girl had a helmet on (mom was walking), I stopped and pulled out a dollar with a "Thanks for Wearing a Helmet" card. Mom asked if I was with Rotary (I had one of my Courage Classic, sponsored by Rotary, jerseys on). I told her no, this was just my little campaign to reward kids for making smart choices. Both mom and daughter thanked me and I continued on.

I rode the rest of the way to Yelm without seeing any more kids on the trail. I even got off and did one of the neighborhood loops, but no kids were out.

I took some rural roads back from Yelm and returned to the trail about a half mile or so from Rainier. As I was passing the picnic shelter next to the trail in Rainier, I saw two boys in the shelter with bikes. They were both wearing helmets, so I rode over to them and gave them each a dollar and card. They both said thanks and I said, " No, thank YOU for wearing helmets!". They looked to be 10 or 11, the age where being cool is everything!

Just past the junction of the Yelm-Tenino Trail and Chehalis Western I saw a young kid coming toward me. He had a helmet on, so I said, "Hey kid, you want a dollar?" As he went flying past, he said, "No thanks." (I think I have better success not asking if they want a dollar.) In this kid's case, he was in full kit, on a road bike (albeit a small one), out of the saddle, hammering the pedals. He wasn't taking time to stop for anything (maybe he is a future Olympian in the making). He is clearly sold on wearing a helmet. Still, I hollered after him, "Thanks for wearing a helmet!"

A few miles further down the trail, I stopped two teenage boys. One of the boys thought he knew me. He had a Boy Scout Troop 48 t-shirt on so, in theory, he could have known me, but he didn't. However, he knows my boys. Anyway, I told them I stopped them because they were wearing helmets. I gave them each their dollar. They looked a bit baffled, but said thanks. I told them I bet it's not often someone gives them money when they are out riding!

My last two recipients were two little boys, about 4 or so, who were in the Horizon Point Park. They were quite enthusiastic about getting a dollar each. I told the older girl who was with them that I would have given her one too if she had been wearing a helmet. She said she didn't have one. That's when I wish I carried extra helmets. However, there are programs available in the community for very low-cost helmets.

So, 7 dollars in 42 miles isn't too bad considering the heat and the miles I spent on rural roads. So far, my "Thanks for Wearing a Helmet" campaign has had an overwhelmingly positive response. It's also fun to see the looks on the kids faces when I hand them a dollar JUST for wearing a helmet!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Desired Effect

I headed out on the Chehalis Western Trail tonight armed with a stack of one dollar bills with "Thanks for wearing a helmet" cards stapled to each one.

Sadly, of the six or so kids I saw riding on the trail, none were wearing a helmet. When I got to the Chambers Lake parking lot, I decided to head out on the road over to Boulevard Rd. because the bugs were really thick on the trail. I did give a couple of dollars to a couple on a tandem even though they were adults because the gal who was the stoker (rider on the back) had a bright pink feather boa on her helmet. I just had to stop and reward that awesomeness!

From Boulevard I cut through a couple of neighborhoods, but still didn't see any helmeted kids.

I got back on the trail at Yelm Hwy and headed south. After getting to Fir Tree Rd and not seeing any kids, I turned around and headed for home. As I was cutting through Horizon Point I came across three boys riding bikes. Of the three, only one was wearing a helmet. I said, "Hey, you with the helmet. I've got something for you." I stopped and pulled out a dollar bill with the the card on it. I gave it to him and asked him if he knew what the card said. He read it and said, "Thanks!". Now, here's the awesome part! The other two boys said, "Did you give him a dollar just because he is wearing a helmet?" I told them that was right. They both said they would go get their helmets. I told them I'd catch them next time when they had their helmets on. The kid who got the dollar rode down his street waving the dollar and yelling to everyone on the street, "I got this dollar for wearing my helmet!" As I rode by the house of one of the helmetless boys, I heard who might have been the mom say to the little boy, "Aren't you missing something?" The helmetless boys also asked me when I was going to come back. I told them I didn't know, but they should have their helmets on for when I did! I'm guessing those two boys will be out everyday riding with their helmets on! That's what I'm looking to accomplish with my "Thanks for wearing a helmet" campaign!

The Reward

Here's what I will hand out to kids who I encounter on my bike travels who are wearing a helmet.

My New Project

Many moons ago (in a kingdom far far away known as Seattle) I worked as a Pediatric Rehab nurse at a well known Children's Hospital. I saw many kids with head injuries--some sustained from riding their bicycle without a helmet. I did not wear a helmet when I was a kid, but after seeing the effects of an accident where a helmet may have prevented a serious head injury, I started wearing a bike helmet. 

Flash to present time where I am riding much more than I did back then. I still ALWAYS wear my helmet. In over 25,000 miles of riding, I have only crashed once. In that one crash, I cracked my helmet. I'm sure glad it was my helmet and not my head!

I ride alot on the streets and trails in my community and the neighboring communities. I am always disappointed when I see a kid riding without a helmet (on the street or the trail). I've always wanted to do something about it. To that end, I have cooked up a little project. It's really very simple. Everytime I encounter a kid who is wearing a helmet, I'm going to stop and give them a dollar and thank them for wearing a helmet. Simple as that. I'm going to reward the positive behavior and ignore the negative behavior. I will also include a small card that says, "Thanks for wearing a helmet" along with this blog address. Do I think giving a single dollar is going to make a big difference?  Probably not (maybe if it was, say, a $10 bill, but I can't afford that). But, what if that kid tells his/her friends that some crazy lady on a bike gave him/her a dollar just because he/she had a helmet on? Maybe, just maybe, that friend might consider donning a helmet in case they might meet the crazy lady and also get a dollar.

So, this blog will not be filled with statistics of why everyone should wear a helmet. I'm fully aware of all the debate of helmet use vs. no helmets. It is merely my opinion that helmets are a good idea. You also probably won't see many photos. As a parent, I might get a little freaked out if my kids' photo showed up on some stranger's blog. This will just be a place to tell about my successes (and failures) in my efforts to tell kids, "Thanks for wearing a helmet"!