A longboarding accident on Lanfear Drive has started a conversation about helmet and cycling safety in Terrace.
On April 11, a man was longboarding down the hill when he wiped out and suffered a head injury that knocked him unconscious in the middle of the road, stopping traffic.
Police arrived on scene around 11:40 a.m.
Robin Willis was driving down Lanfear when she saw the lower half of the young man’s body lying in a 90-degree angle in front of the car ahead of her. She called 911, but RCMP were already pulling up.
“He had a lot of blood, he hit his head and really banged up his elbow and his hip badly,” she says. “I didn’t see the accident happen, but I guess he lost control of his skateboard.”
She says the longboarder wasn’t wearing a helmet or any protective gear and was initially knocked unconscious from the impact. He was convulsing on the road for a minute but regained consciousness once police arrived.
RCMP contacted Emergency Health Services, who tended to the man and took him to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
“He was remembering the date by that time, though he didn’t earlier,” she says.
In BC, everyone is required by law to wear a helmet when on a bicycle, but it’s not required for skateboarding or longboarding. There are no provincial rules regarding non-motorized skateboards or longboards, but many cities have enacted bylaws regulating their use.
The City of Terrace does not require helmets to be worn for skateboards or longboards, and according to the city’s street traffic bylaws, riding is not permitted on any sidewalk.
According to a BC Injury and Research Prevention 2016 study on concussions among children and youth, around 13 per cent of child and youth fall-related concussion hospitalizations in the Northern Health area were from falls involving skates, skis and skateboards.
RCMP says they’re working on organizing their annual Bike Rodeo at the Skeena Mall on May 24, which focusses on the importance of bike safety and wearing helmets.
In addition to the rodeo, RCMP say they’ll be conducting both bike and foot patrols downtown to educate the public about the importance and rules surrounding bike safety. The Community Policing Team will be handing out non-punitive tickets and warnings, advising adults and children of road safety laws.
Anyone caught without a helmet can take their warnings to the detachment office and trade them for a helmet voucher for people who don’t already have one or can’t afford to purchase one.
Though Willis says the narrowness of Lanfear Drive and lack of adequate bike lanes or sidewalks can make the road extremely scary for both drivers and pedestrians. With private property at the top and bottom of the hill, a lot of people use Lanfear to travel to and from home or school.
And with no skateboarding or longboarding allowed on public sidewalks, the man would have had to longboard down the road anyway.
“I would be scared to death to walk down there to tell you the truth, it’s bad enough driving down it, ” she says.
The city is well aware of the improvements needed for Lanfear Drive, especially as residential developments continue on the bench.
Earlier last year, they applied for a $10 million provincial and federal grant to reconstruct the road with additional sidewalks and bike lanes, but said during budget discussions Ottawa has informed them the grant won’t be processed until after the federal election this fall.