The White Sands Missile Range Directorate of Emergency Services and the Garrison Safety Office would both like to remind motorists on post to look out for the safety of bicycle and skateboard riders, and to remind bicycle and skateboard riders to wear a helmet.
“This is not an option, it is mandatory,” said DES Capt. Tom Benavidez of the helmet regulations. He said motorists also need to watch their speed and be aware that bicycle and skateboard riders are out there sharing the road.
WSMR regulation 190-5: 24a (4) states that every person riding a bicycle on WSMR will wear an approved bicycle safety helmet. The helmet must bear an approved safety label from the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation Standards.
Benavidez said officers on patrol will stop violators and make them walk their bike or carry their skateboard home if they are not in compliance.
“This is a safety issue and a WSMR Regulation, we are supporting the Safety Office by enforcing this regulation and hope that by doing this we can help educate the public and possibly prevent a serious injury,” Benavidez said.
“If families can’t afford helmets for their kids or themselves, they can reach out to us. There are programs that will assist in furnishing helmets to families, we can help identify them and put them in contact with each other,” Benavidez said. “Our job isn’t to only enforce the law, it’s also to educate, and support programs that focus on the safety of the community.”
Benavidez credits Robert Duran, Chief Garrison Safety Office, with putting out the word on the importance of Personal Protective Equipment when riding a bicycle and skateboard.
“Duran and his group do a tremendous job of ensuring that safety issues are addressed and resolved,” Benavidez said.
Annually, 26,000 bicycle accidents lead to traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency departments in the United States. According to Duran, there are 800-900 bicycle related deaths a year in the United States. Of those deaths, 90 percent involve collision with a motor vehicle.
“They should be wearing brightly covered clothes and reflectors on their bicycles. Vehicles are their worst enemies,” Duran said.
Duran said bicycle riders should follow the motto, “see and be seen.” WSMR R 190-5: 24a (5) states that bicycle riders are also required to dismount and walk their bicycle across the roadway when using a marked crosswalk
Furthermore, WSMR R 190-5: 24a (5) c states that when emerging from an alley, driveway, or building, bicycle riders must completely stop and yield to all other traffic.
“Use hand signals, stay alert for road hazards, especially here at White Sands,” Duran said.
Skateboarders are reminded that AR 385-10 and WSMR R 190-5 state the following:
- No skating on major roadways
- Skate only in designated or designed parking lots clear of parked vehicles, obstructions and structures.
- Skateboarding is not prohibited on sidewalks; however, such use will yield right of way to pedestrians.
- Use proper Personal Protective Equipment: approved headgear, elbow pads, knee pads, and hand protection.
- The wearing of portable headphones, earphones, ear or other listening devices while skateboarding is prohibited.
According to the Center for Disease Control any bicyclist who does not wear a bicycle helmet is at increased risk of head injury.
“We don’t want anyone to get hurt, especially kids,” Duran said.
Can It Be Prevented? The following is from the CDC website:
Yes. Wearing a properly fitted helmet every time you and your children ride a bicycle is one important prevention method. If children don’t want to wear a helmet, find out why. Some children don’t like to wear helmets because they fear they will be teased by peers for being “geeky” or because they think helmets are unattractive, uncomfortable, or hot. Talk about these concerns with children and choose a helmet they will want to wear. Other prevention strategies:
- Follow the rules of the road; ride on the right side of the road-with the traffic flow, not against it.
◦obey traffic signs and signals just as if you were driving a car, use correct hand signals, stop at all signs and red lights, and stop and look both ways before entering a street.
- Depending on the laws in your community, children may ride on sidewalks and paths.
- If riding at dawn, at dusk, or at night, wear reflective clothing (not just light-colored clothing) and make sure that the bike has a front headlight and a rear red reflector or flashing red light.
Bicycle safety information will be handed out during the First Day of School Holiday Aug. 6 at White Sands School. The annual Bike Rodeo, which provides refresher training on bicycle safety for children and provides free helmets, will also be taking place later this year.
For more information on the regulations contact DES Capt. Tom Benavidez at 678-3751.