Start off the New Year with Resolutions for a safer 2015:

Have a safe and happy 2015!

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As the temperature drops, so do the number cyclists. This year however, there are more two-wheeled commuters on the roads of Vancouver year-round.

According to The Province, the city has seen a major increase of new cyclists sticking to their bikes even in the rainy, dark winter months. The number of daily mid-week bike trips over the Burrard Street Bridge topped at 6,800 in mid-July this year. The September average is up to 4,500 from 3,800 in 2013.

“It’s really all about the rain gear,” said Erin O’Melinn, executive director of HUB, in The Province. “Cyclists find they’re drier when they get home after riding than when they walk or take the bus because they’re dressed better.”

During HUB’s Bike-to-Work-Week from October 27 to November 2, 4,300 bikers registered compared to 3,200 last year. 740 were new riders, compared to 268 in 2013.

“It’s just nice to be outside, doesn’t matter what the weather is”, “I wanted to commute in a more environmentally-friendly way” and, “I don’t want to take transit” are just a few reasons why some Vancouverites have chosen bikes as their main mode of transportation.

Interested in joining this community of winter riders? Check out Winter Riding in BC for tips on how to get started.

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TIME continues to discuss the tragic risks of American Football in their latest issue. A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC says high school football players display notable brain changes, even in the absence of a concussion.

The study monitored 24 high school football players between the ages of 16 and 18. Researches mounted sensors to their helmets to assess the frequency and severity of helmet impacts. While the players wearing the helmets were not concussed

A pedestrian advocacy group says more needs to be done to protect pedestrians.

According to The Province, five elderly people were struck while crossing at marked intersections between November 23 and December 3. Four of those pedestrians were hit by vehicles making left-hand turns and one by a vehicle driving straight. According to a Coroners Service report, more than half of fatal incidents at intersections occurred when the pedestrian had the right of way or was waiting at a sidewalk or median. In 70 per cent of those cases vehicles would hit a pedestrian while making a left turn.

Bev Ballentyne, co-founder of Putting Pedestrians First, believes that things won’t get better unless there’s more enforcement. She also believes that campaigns like ICBC’s Walk Safe sends the wrong message.

“It’s telling us as walkers and cyclists to stay out of (motorists’) way,” says Ballentyne in The Province. “It just means drivers are going to be worse. They’re going to feel entitled, more aggressive, drive faster and stop less. The onus should be on the driver to drive according to the conditions and watch for pedestrians.”

The BC Ministry of Transportation made a regulation change to simplify the Slow Down Move Over rule. Effective January 1, 2015, drivers must slow down and move into another lane when passing all roadside workers including land surveyors, animal control workers and garbage collectors.  All vehicles required to be passed this way will display a flashing red, blue or yellow light, making it easier for drivers to know the rules of the road.

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The holiday season is here and many of us are shopping for children. If toys are on your list, take a moment to consider how safe they are. According to CBC, a US study suggests that toy-related injuries have increased by 40 per cent in the last two decades.

Dr. Gary Smith, an injury prevention researcher and director of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio found that a child was treated in an emergency department for a toy-related injury every three minutes in the US. The Public Health Agency of Canada’s database of 17 emergency departments showed that there were 2,761 cases of toy-related injuries from 2010 to 2011.

“The increasing number and rate of toy-related injuries to children, especially those associated with ride-on toys, underscore the need for increased efforts to prevent these injuries,” said Smith.

Ride-on toys were three times more likely to be related with a fracture or dislocation. Foot-powered scooters, wagons and tricycles were linked with 42 per cent of injuries. Helmets should be used with ride-on toys.

For children under three, toys including magnets, batteries and smaller parts pose choking hazards.

Pamela Fuselli, vice-president of knowledge transfer and stakeholder relations at Parachute, offers safety tips for parents and caregivers in the CBC article including:

Visit our 5 Tips for Toy Safety – A Holiday Reminder to ensure kids are safe with their new toys this holiday season.

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Last February I wrote about how The Ministry of Transportation began surveying the Stanley Park Causeway with plans to reveal a design last spring. Instead, the Ministry hopes to gain more insight from the public during a consultation session.

The Stanley Park Causeway is 2.2-kilometres of Highway 99 that connects Vancouver and the North Shore. The redesign project was introduced following the death of a 61-year old woman.  She was commuting by bike when she veered onto the roadway to avoid a pedestrian and collided with a bus.

According to the USCDC, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur at an annual rate of 500/100,000 individuals. Serious cases can be measured by CAT scans, but injuries such as concussions are more difficult to gauge. Untreated mild TBIs can lead to depression, dementia and other problems.

BrainScope, a privately held medical neurotechnology company, is making waves in detecting traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The company develops portable, non-invasive instruments to help assess brain function at the initial point of care after a head injury.

Between 2007 and 2012, 68 per cent of riders fatally injured in a bike accidents without car involvement were not wearing a helmet in BC. Helmets are not only an essential piece of equipment for bike commuters but are also mandatory by law in Vancouver. After the ride is over they can become a hassle to carry around.

Folding a helmet, like folding a bike or collapsing an umbrella, makes it easier to carry. With different types of foldable helmets on the market in Europe, expect to see similar models come to Canada and help lighten your load

A UK drunk-driving public service announcement (PSA) brings a different meaning to Kool & the Gang’s 1980 hit “Celebration”. The minute-long second spot hits home with impactful scenes and the ironic use of the dance track. The ad also marks the 50th anniversary of England’s first drunk-driving PSA.