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By Eryka Forquer

The safety of bicyclists and encouragement of the use of helmets are the focus of the Protect Your Head event scheduled for the Dana Point Farmers Market on Saturday, May 22.

Jason Spates and Micah Meiring, owners of the local e-bike shop Doheny Bike, are partnering with the City of Dana Point to distribute 50 to 60 complimentary helmets. Doheny Bike, whose electric bikes can reach a maximum speed of 23-28 mph, created the event to promote the use of proper protection when riding e-bikes.

“We want safety to be our primary goal and even educating adults who don’t think wearing a helmet is fashionable,” Spates said. “It’s really just to encourage people to, like the campaign is, protect their head. I’m 43, and growing up, we never really wore helmets. But these e-bikes are so fast, so people need to wear the appropriate protection.”

Doheny Bike is located along the Pacific Coast Highway, a location where Spates said many bicyclists can be seen without helmets, whether they are riding by themselves, in tandem or in groups. A study conducted by a personal injury attorney in Orange County found that PCH has heavy volumes of vehicle and bicycle traffic, with a high number of bicycle accidents.

According to Spates, he commonly sees people under the age of 18 riding bikes without helmets.

“A lot of the kids satisfy their parents within eyesight, and then as soon as they are outside of their eyesight, they unclasp the helmet and they put it on their handlebars,” Spates said. “You see that all the time.”

Under California law, people under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet while operating a bike. However, the CDC found that children and adolescents ranging from age 5 to 19 have the highest rate of bicycle-related injuries, making up more than one-third of the cases that emergency rooms receive for bicycle-related injuries.

Spates said his e-bike store does not sell to minors, and the store’s policy requires all riders to wear a helmet when testing out a bike. Even at low speeds, a crash can cause injuries if a person is not wearing a helmet.

“A properly fitted helmet is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce the chance of brain injury or death in the event of a collision,” the Orange County Transportation Authority said in a report. “Helmet use can help prevent 85% of all head and brain injuries when worn correctly.”

Doheny Bike will distribute its limited supply of free Retrospect and Thousand brand helmets during the Protect Your Head event at the Dana Point Farmers Market in La Plaza Park, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Spates said that the helmet drive will be the first of three events that Doheny Bike is holding this summer.

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