1 800 Flemish schools promote protective gear in traffic
On Monday, almost 1 800 elementary schools in Flanders launched a campaign to promote the use of a bicycle helmet and a high-vis jacket when cycling. “Schoolgoing children are less visible in traffic during the dark winter period and the helmet and jacket can improve traffic safety,” Mobility Minister Lydia Peeters (Open Vld) said.
The action ‘Helm Op Fluo Top’ is an idea of the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Science (Vlaamse Stichting Verkeerskunde, VSV) and is supported by the Flemish government and several partners.
Among them, the two well-known Flemish animal parks, Zoo Antwerpen and Zoo Planckendael, Center Parks/Sun Parks, Torfs, JBC, and AS Adventure.
Helm Op Fluo Top – the seventh edition yet – is intended to motivate children of school age to wear protective gear when walking or cycling to and from school. The campaign runs from November 8th to February 25th.
Every day when children arrive at school wearing a jacket, they receive a sticker. Wearing a helmet brings in an additional sticker. At the end of the campaign, they hand in the collected stickers and receive a reward, like tickets for an amusement park or a purchase voucher.
Wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk for serious injuries by 60%; the risk for lethal head injuries even decreases by 71%. So, especially for young children, it’s a no-brainer.
To see and be seen
Kristien Vanderweyden, director of the Sint-Lambrechts school, where the campaign was kicked off, is a faithful supporter of the campaign. But the action alone is not enough, she says. It’s only part of a broader approach.
“We learn our children how to make eye contact in traffic, we teach them about visibility, the difference to see and be seen, and we always wear high-vis jackets during school trips.”
A total of 1 748 kindergarten and elementary schools participate in the action. Together, they represent 22 745 classes and 454 338 pupils.