Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate

Local bicyclists are going to be encouraged to "use their head" around town.

A program dubbed "Helmet Head" will be enacted next month to promote the use of helmets for those under the age of 18.

Bicyclists riding around town without a helmet may be stopped by local law enforcement and given a "ticket" - a redeemable coupon for the child to receive a free helmet and proper instruction on how to use it, said program coordinator Karen Phillips.

"It's not a citation or real ticket; we want to it be a positive interaction," said Phillips.

The free helmet offer must be redeemed from the law enforcement agency that gave the ticket, Phillips said.

Children observed obeying the law for minors on bicycles to wear helmets could be stopped by law enforcement as well - but to be rewarded with a movie pass, Phillips said.

"If there are students out in the community who are found to be riding with a helmet, the officers could stop them and say 'hey, you're using your head, so we're going to give you a ticket for a free movie,'" said Phillips.

The stops will not be the normal lights flashing and sirens wailing sort, because the program is meant to help build a positive relationship between law enforcement and children, Phillips said.

"We're trying to give them a more positive example of policing in our community," said Phillips. "We don't want to scare the kids."

The program is funded by the Public Health Institute through the California Endowment. So far, 202 helmets have been purchased.

The program is expected to last for at least a year, but the hope is to be able to run it for several more, Phillips said.

"We're hoping to garner some community support to sustain the program into the future," said Phillips.

Helmet Head partners include the California Highway Patrol, Crescent City Police Department, Del Norte County Sheriff's Office, Yurok Tribal Police, Healthcorps, Del Norte Local Transportation Commission, Del Norte County Public Health, Building Healthy Communities and the Del Norte Unified School District.

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