‘Bike Rodeo’ rounds up kids’ safety skills

They weren’t bustin’ broncos at the East Portland Community Center; see how this course could keep youngsters from being busted up ‚Äì or worse ‚Ķ

Although off duty, Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer was on hand to welcome parents and kids to the first-ever ‘bike rodeo’.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
If only one child is saved from being injured or killed by the lessons they learned at the first-ever “Bicycle Rodeo”, the hosts and sponsors say the event was worth the effort.

“We at East Portland Community Center,” Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer tells us, “are helping kids learn and practice safe biking skills.”

Checking kids into the rodeo are members of the Lloyd Lions Club. “Our clubs are committed to helping youth and youth activities,” says president David Bolton with a smile.

Cory Tipton of Shiloh Cyclery safety checks the bike Chris Powers brought to the event for his son Alex to ride.

Event provides good reinforcement
At the event, kids navigate around the skills course of tightly-spaced safety cones to sharpen their balance and braking ability. They also ride, with a Portland Police Bike Officer at their side, within a miniature chalk-drawn city, complete with stop signs and hazards.

“We all like to ride bikes a lot,” is what David Wilson tells us, as his son Brendon is riding the course. “Where we live, about the only place we can ride is on the street. I really want him to be safe, be skilled, and know the laws. We’ve done our best to teach him well, but this is good reinforcement from what he’s learned from us.”

Portland Police Bike Officer Heath Kula guides Brendon Wilson around the Bike Rodeo course, offering teaching and providing praise for a job well done.

“It is also important for youngsters to learn and know the rules of the road, traffic control signs and signals. I can’t think of a more tragic situation than for a careful motorist to hit a kid who puts himself in danger by not following these rules.”

Trauma nurses talk tough
Part of the Bike Rodeo was a table at which trauma nurses gave age-appropriate – yet startling – examples of why bike helmets save lives.

Providence Hospital trauma nurse, Dominique Clayton helps mom Julie Jacobs make sure her son, “JJ” has a bike helmet that fits properly. “If it wiggles, it is too loose.”

“You have to get the whole community involved,” says Providence Hospital trauma nurse, Dominique Clayton. “I’ve seen it for myself. Bike helmets save brains. Adults, parents and older kids need to be good role models by wearing bike helmets. When the younger kids see this, it becomes ‘cool’ for them to follow the rules and wear a helmet.”

The Bike Rodeo wasn’t all “schooling”. Participants were treated to ice cream, a hot dog lunch, and a backpack filled with back-to-school items.

“We are fortunate to have partners that believe in this project as much as we do,” says Chief Sizer. “This event was made possible with the support of the Portland Police Foundation, Bike Gallery, East Portland Community Center, Franz Bakery, Fred Meyer Stores, Ice Cream Express, Lloyd Lions Club, Shiloh Cyclery, Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, and Zenner’s Quality Meats.”

After getting up his confidence, and learning new skills, Brendon Wilson takes another ride around the Bike Rodeo course.

Looking to the future, Chief Sizer says to look for more Bike Rodeos. “This was a big success. We’re already planning for our events next year.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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