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Young riders saddle up for Bike Rodeo

By Staff | May 11, 2011

Sanibel Bicycle Club members, from left, Mike Miller, Dan and Judy Davis helped out at the bike helmet tent during the inaugural Bike Rodeo & Safety Fair.

With the school year soon coming to an end, a lot more bicycle riders can be expected to be hitting the road — and shared use paths — this summer. And for the third consecutive year, several members of the community are sponsoring an event aimed at educating youngsters on staying safe while enjoying the pedal-powered activity.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children in kindergarten through fourth grade to the next Bike Rodeo & Safety Fair on Thursday, May 12 from 2 to 5 p.m. at The Sanibel School’s Pavilion. All kids attending that are not enrolled in the regular after school program must have a parent or guardian accompany them for this event.

“Last year, we gave out about 15 bike helmets and about 80 or 90 locks,” said Billy Kirkland, owner of Billy’s Bike Shop and Billy’s Rentals. “This year, we’ll be handing out bells, along with headlights and tail lights, popcorn and ice cream.”

The free event will give your child a chance to learn about, and practice, safe bicycling skills. The Bicycle Rodeo includes a safety inspection and a series of skills stations directly related to everyday bicycling situations. Participants will practice starting and stopping, the safe way to exit a driveway, how to look for traffic, negotiate an intersection, and avoid common road hazards.

According to Kirkland, his bike shop will provide mechanics to inspect — and repair — any potential mechanical problems. Children are encouraged to bring their own bicycle and helmet, but if they are unable to, equipment will be provided for them.

Riley Johnson, left, prepares to complete the obstacle course while Salli Kirkland offers him instructions.

“Something like this is a great community activity that brings kids out and teaches them all about bike safety,” said Barry Alan Roth, a member of the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club, who assisted as volunteers at the Bike Rodeo last fall. “We’re teaching them not only how to ride a bike but how to ride along Sanibel’s shared use paths and how to use their brakes, lights and other safety gear.”

In addition, members of the Sanibel Police Department will be on hand to distribute official safety course certificates of completion at the end of the rodeo.

“On Sanibel, biking is a very viable way to get around,” added Kirkland. “The summer season is coming up, and more young riders will be moving around the islands.”

The organizations sponsoring and staffing the event include the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club, The Sanibel Bicycle Club, Dairy Queen, Bailey’s General Store, Island Graphics, the Sanibel Recreation Department, Billy’s Bike Shop and Billy’s Rentals.

For more information about the Bike Rodeo & Safety Fair, call the Sanibel Recreation Center at 472-0345 or visit www.mysanibel.com.