Annual bike rodeo gets kids moving, teaches safety
By Dale Hogg 530News –
The smiling young helmet-clad cyclist could hardly control her excitement as she straddled her new, small, pink bike, complete with petal-shaped pedals and training wheels. She wanted to ride.
The girl was not alone. She was surrounded by several other youngsters between the ages of 8-12 taking part in the annual Bicycle Safety Rodeo Wednesday morning at Brit Spaugh Park.
“This is the beginning of summer and kids getting out on bikes,” said Barton County Health Department Health Educator Janel Rose. The purpose of the event is to get more kids on bicycles and, above all else, teach safety.
Parents brought their children to the park where they could get a free bike helmet and, if they needed one, a free bike from a massive selection of rides restored by inmates at Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Riders who had outgrown their current bikes could also exchange them for a better fitting one.
As the kids arrived, they were registered and fitted with a helmet. Next, Health Director Shelly Schneider went over basic bike safety and etiquette.
She stressed the importance of the helmet “to protect your brain.” She also discussed lights and reflectors, walking a bike through a busy intersection and looking both ways before crossing a street.
And, she said sometimes kids need to help the adults.
“It’s up to you to make sure your parents ride safely,” she said.
Then came the fun part as participants took turns wandering the rows of bikes to make their selections and to have their new bikes adjusted for them. Some already had a bike spotted and ran to it immediately.
In years past, the riders ran through obstacle courses. This year, they were divided by ability level and volunteers led them on a ride through the park. At the various stops they were instructed on the rules of the road.
Rose said the rodeo is a group effort. In addition to the Health Department, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office, the Barton County Landfill (which collects and transports bikes to Ellsworth Correctional Facility), the Great Bend Police Department, Crime Stoppers of Barton County (which purchased the helmets) and the Golden Belt Bicycle Company (which helped with the bike fitting and arranged the safety rides) were involved.