It's no longer just good sense for youngsters in Grandview Heights to wear helmets when riding their bicycles.

It's now the law.

A bike-helmet ordinance, which Grandview City Council approved in August, officially takes effect Feb. 1 after a six-month grace period during which only verbal warnings were issued.

Grandview police officers now have the authority to write a ticket if they spot anyone under the age of 18 not wearing an approved helmet when riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, roller skates or in-line skates.

"The intention of the ordinance is to promote safety; it's not meant to be punitive," said council President Greta Kearns, who sponsored the legislation. "The intent is to make people more safety-conscious. Our residents should be conversant with proper safety practices and should be putting those practices into use."

Grandview is enacting the same type of regulation as other central Ohio communities, including Columbus, Bexley and New Albany, Kearns said.

"It's particularly important in our community, which has so many pedestrians and bicycles sharing the road with cars," she said.

During the six-month grace period, police officers were instructed to remind helmetless riders about the new law, but not write a violation.

Most youngsters already wear helmets when riding their bikes, Grandview police officer Janna Cohill said.

"We aren't finding many instances where we have to give a warning out to people," she said.

The new law may serve as a "gentle reminder" of bicycle safety "and get people thinking about safe behavior," Kearns said.

When laws requiring motorists to wear safety belts went into effect, it helped remind drivers that they needed to buckle up, she said.

The same likely will happen with Grandview's helmet law, Kearns said.

"There's been some talk about passing a state law about bike helmets, but that hasn't happened yet, so it's something that's needing to be done on the local level," she said.

Grandview's police and fire departments participate in the Bicycle Safety Campaign, a program coordinated through Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"During the summer months, we'll have buy-one-get-one-free coupons for Dairy Queen ice cream that we'll hand out when we see a child is wearing their bike helmet," Cohill said. "It's a positive way to recognize and promote bike safety."

Youngsters who take part in the campaign also are entered into a drawing to win Columbus Blue Jackets tickets, she said.

Under Grandview's law, parents would bear the responsibility if their child does not wear a helmet.

A child not wearing a helmet would be informed of the violation by police and reminded of the potential injuries that may occur in an accident.

Police may confiscate a bike until a parent claims it and is informed of the violation.

A first violation will be suspended if a parent provides proof they own a protective helmet that meets safety standards and appropriately fits their child.

A second violation is subject to a $25 fine; subsequent violations will incur $50 fines.

The charge would be considered a minor misdemeanor. More-serious misdemeanor charges can be filed if the parent has been convicted or pleaded guilty in the last year to motor vehicle or traffic offenses.

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