Buncombe County -- Buncombe County Recreation Services recently received 100 bicycle helmets for distribution to local kids and teens through a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Division.

Funded by proceeds from the state’s “Share the Road” specialty license plate and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Traumatic Brain Injury Program, the program has equipped thousands of children with helmets, a simple and essential means of reducing bicycle injuries and fatalities.

Asheville on Bikes distributed the helmets at no charge during bike safety events with elementary, middle, and high school students from Youth Transformed for Life and Word on the Street/La Voz de Los Jovenes. The award is specifically designed to make helmets available to youth from low income households.

“Over the past few months, we’ve learned more than ever that providing safe, equitable, accessible access to outdoor opportunities is essential for our community’s resiliency, health, wellbeing, and mutual trust,” says Josh O’Conner, Director of Recreation Services. “Partnerships like the Bicycle Helmet Initiative help us deliver on the promise that high-quality parks and recreation experiences are not merely a ‘nice-to-have’ luxury, but a core service essential to the quality of life for everyone in Buncombe County. This grant not only improves the safety of those visiting parks, but also those biking to school or spending time outside the house with family members.”

Each year in North Carolina, an average of 20 cyclist are killed while bicycling with one in six under the age of 16. Children ages 5-14 are seen in the emergency room for bicycle related injuries more than any other sport. While less than half of all children typically wear one while biking, safety helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by nearly 90%.

To see photos from the Youth Transformed for Life educational event, visit Recreation Services on Instagram or Facebook.