Bicycle rodeo to educate, inform youth

Kiwanis Club donates $500 for new helmets, helmet fittings

Staff writerJune 25, 2014 

With the arrival of summer, children finishing their last days of school are excited to hop on their bicycles and enjoy the outdoors.

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday on the second floor of the Puyallup City Hall parking garage, the Puyallup Police Department will host a bicycle rodeo where children age 4-12 are encouraged to come with their bicycle to learn about bicycle safety and get fitted for a new helmet, made possible by a $500 donation from the Puyallup Kiwanis Club.

“We want them to come and have fun and learn about safe riding practices,” said Captain Scott Engle of the Puyallup Police Department.

The event will cover proper helmet fitting, rules of the road, how to be safe on a bicycle, a mock course that children can ride on to practice safety skills, quick safety checks of their bicycle, and instructions on what proper equipment is needed for a bicycle.

The police department’s bicycle patrol officers will man the event. Sgt. Kevin Gill, who supervises the patrol, said about six stations will be spread out across the rodeo. At each station, children can practice proper hand signals and other skills that bicycle officers must master in order to pass the course for policing, according to Gill.

“It’s right at the end of the school year when you see lots of kids out riding their bike,” Gill said. “Bikes have been inside during the winter. We’re trying to raise awareness of being safe and preventing (children) from getting in a wreck. This is a good outreach opportunity for our bicycle officers. We might not have a lot of time to spend time with kids. This lets (children) come in and figure out what we do when we’re on the bicycle.”

The department’s bicycle team was established in the early 1990s. Gill said there are about six officers that do regular patrols and several more that are auxiliary for special events.

“There are a couple guys in the department that are still part of that original team,” Gill explained. “We have a good group of guys riding right now that have a good passion for the bike. I’ve never done (a rodeo) before, so I’m pulling ideas from people who have done it before.”

It’s been several years since the department has done a bicycle rodeo, according to Engle.

“We’d like to do it more than just this year, so we’ll have to see how the turnout is,” Engle said. “If the turnout is good and there is a need, then we will do it again.”

Gill said in addition to the support of the Puyallup Kiwanis Club, Bonney Lake Bicycle has volunteered to be the official bicycle vendor for the event.

“They have agreed to do safety inspections,” Gill said.

The department is hoping for a good turnout.

“It’s completely free,” Engle said. “We’d be happy to have 100 to 150 (attend). We’ve placed it downtown near Pioneer Park and the Farmers’ Market, so people may spill over from that.”

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes Twitter: @herald_andrew

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