Bike ‘Safety Fair’ pitches camp at Early Boyles Elementary

See how fun with safety education are combined, during this Safe Routes to School event …

Parents and instructors show these Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood kids how to safely ride bikes in their neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Every year, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Safe Routes to School program holds a “Spring Kickoff” event somewhere in town.

This year, the traveling bike safety road show came to Earl Boyles Elementary School on April 12. The front parking lot was turned into a bicycle safety track – complete with bikes for those who did not bring them.

PBOT Safe Routes to School Program Manager Gabriel Graff shows a “balance bike” – better for learning than are training wheels, he says.

Watching some very little kids, some just starting to walk, taking rides around the safety track, was PBOT Safe Routes to School Program Manager Gabriel Graff.

Some of the toddlers were straddling bikes without pedals or chains. “We’ve figured out that the ‘balance bikes’ proved better learning than using ‘training wheels’,” Graff remarked. “The main skill is balance. If you get a three-year-old riding a balance bike, in just a couple of weeks, they’ll soon be pedaling. Balance is the real skill that is harder to master.”

PBOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator Janis McDonald checks-in Tatiana Pulyk and her son Michael into the bicycle safety fair.

They hold the event at different schools ever year, Graff said, “Because we’re trying to get new families involved in learning how to walk and bike safely to school. They learn how to have a good fitting helmet, how to write a bicycle, and where to find safe places to walk or ride in the neighborhood.”

Looking at a map, Graff said not all streets are ideal for family bike riding. “Some streets are better than others. For example, we’re letting people know that SE Bush Street is one of our new Neighborhood Greenways – streets with speed bumps to slow down traffic.

“We want to show people to ride there, and not on SE Powell Boulevard,” Graff told East Portland News. “It stretches from Ed Benedict Park, east, to SE 130th Avenue.”

Legacy Emanuel Trauma Nurses Talk Tough volunteer Simone Carter fits a helmet on Kim Tu, while Tram Tonnu watches. “I like my new helmet – it’s very comfortable.  I will wear it all the time when I go bicycling,” says Kim.

She’s happy to host the bike safety fair, says Earl Boyles Elementary School Principal Ericka Guynes.

“This is our first time hosting this event,” said Earl Boyles Elementary School Principal Ericka Guynes. “It is important to bring in community members into our school for our families and children have access to bike safety education and other safety education.

“And, it’s also important to create new partnerships,” she added. “Having this PBOT event at the school helps families feel safe because they’re used to coming here, and it is centrally located for them.”

During the safety fair, two volunteer bike mechanics from Bike Farm, Dylan Peerenboom and John Rutman, make sure bicycles are safe to ride.

The bike safety fair is a good combination, Guynes pointed out, of teaching bike safety – and teaching healthy activities. “It promotes a healthy lifestyle. Active transportation promotes a healthier lifestyle than sitting inside watching TV, or having screen time on a computer.”

Safe Routes to School organizer Abra McNair sets out the free lunch provided at the event, with help from student Felipe Gonzalez.

Looking forward to a bicycle outing this spring? Consider participating in the May 11 outer East Portland Sunday Parkways from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. It features a 7 mile “tour” of outer East Portland. People walking, biking, rolling, or dancing along the route, should take time to stop by Glenwood, Bloomington, and Ed Benedict Parks for “a spot of food, vendors, music and more”, organizers say.

Check out the map and information for this, and other upcoming, events: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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