Hundreds gather for a bike riding event around the greater D.C. area. (Courtesy photo)

The third annual Bikes and Beers event to celebrate the biking community in the greater Washington area went off without a hitch, organizers said this week.

The bike ride that focuses on local craft beer and the benefits of cycling featured a 15-mile and a 30-mile journey that began at the Union Craft Brewing Company in Baltimore.

Organizers said they strongly believe in bicycling as a safe, comfortable, and smart choice for transportation and recreation and the event benefits a charity to improve policies, laws, and infrastructure.

And, as the event proceeded, The Justice for Children Foundation — a charity co-founded by attorney Howard Spiva — reminded others of their program to give free bicycle safety helmets to children.

Spiva’s “Helmets for Life” program already has provided countless free safety helmets to families and he’s reaching out across the country to help further the cause.

“There are multiple reasons why we don’t see 100 percent participation in wearing helmets,” Spiva said. “For some people, it may just be the inconvenience, others may think that the appearance might make them appear un-cool or goofy or some kids might think it is not tough to wear helmets.”

However, he noted those reasons can easily be defeated when there are so many different models styles and colors of helmets available today.

In everyday life, helmets play a huge role in safety, Spiva said.

“Virtually every dangerous activity involves a helmet,” he said. “Skateboards, baseball, football, martial arts, motorcycles. Even bull riders wear helmets, so nobody can say tough folks don’t wear helmets.”

Spiva pointed out that police officers on motorbikes and horses, skiers, firefighters and combat soldiers also wear helmets.

If money poses an issue, Spiva noted that his foundation has free helmet giveaways for children and information can be found at www.Headsinhelmets.com.

Spiva also noted that his message to parents is to let children know helmets are “cool.”

That message has been passed along in TV and radio interviews Spiva’s charity has taken part in throughout the country.

“We attend to community event, parades, schools, churches and promote helmet/safety information so that parents and others learn how important helmets are in preventing traumatic brain injuries and deaths,” he said.

While formal races like “Bikes and Beers” often require participants to wear helmets, hundreds of cyclists are killed each year in traffic accidents and the majority involve serious head injuries, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet, Spiva said.

However, by law, only riders 16 and under are required to wear helmets and only 22 states have statewide laws regarding mandatory helmet use by minors.

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pediatric Association have revealed that when helmets were mandated for bicyclists, traumatic brain injuries went down by 75 percent and fatalities dropped 85 percent.

“Simply the padding and cushion of a helmet lessens the impact to the skull,” Spiva said. “Less trauma equals less damage.”

Raising awareness has been a part of Spiva’s mission but he said the message is clear.

“I think there’s plenty of information out there on helmets and safety. People just live busy life’s and have lots of distractions,” he said. “All of us deal with emails, text, phone calls, radio and TV commercials and the challenges of daily life. We probably have too much information coming at us.

“We have to find a way to get the message to bicyclist, parents and kids that helmets prevent 75 percent automatic brain injuries and 85 percent of deaths,” Spiva said.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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