Children taught safety first at bicycle rodeo

High Prairie RCMP Const. Kayla Dubowski instructs Rowan Cuthbert, 3, on rules of safety.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Keeping children safe on roadways and streets is everyone’s responsibility.

To meet that important goal, several community agencies partnered to hold a bicycle rodeo Aug. 28 in the Sports Palace parking lot. In all, 23 children and nine adults attended, says Jenny- Leigh Solomon, health promotion facilitator, Alberta Health Services.

The children pedaled their way through a course with three members of the High Prairie RCMP stationed at various points to give tips. Solomon was at the start of the course to also give instructions.

“A bike rodeo is a skills event which provides an opportunity for young bicyclists to practice and develop skills that will help them to become better bicyclists and learn the rules of the road,” says Solomon.

“Education is provided regarding bike safety, road signs, the importance of helmet use, and proper helmet fitment.”

Children aged 4-12 years often attend and seem most interested, but some younger attended the High Prairie rodeo. Many of the cyclists were just learning to ride as their bicycles had training wheels.

RCMP Const. Jake Stelnicki gave a short address before the start of the rodeo. After, children wound their way through a course, many taking advantage of completing the course several times. There were rocks [hockey pucks] to avoid, stop signs, and marked areas for cyclists to navigate. Police were at crosswalks to remind and teach children the proper way to signal and cross the street.

Other partners in the rodeo included Blue Heron, Alberta Brain Injury Initiative, the Town of High Prairie, and Big Lakes FCSS, who helped prepare, cook and serve food.

Sponsors included Freson Bros., Super A Foods, POPS Home Hardware, Red Apple, and the High Prairie Municipal Library.

Solomon says the importance of safety to reduce injuries cannot be overstated.

“Children are most likely to get hurt because they are just learning to ride, going too fast, riding near cars and traffic or not using safety gear,” she says.

“The most common injury is a broken bone. The most serious injuries are those involving the head and brain. Even seemingly minor head injuries may cause permanent brain damage.”

The best way to avoid injuries other than obeying the rules of the road?

“A properly fitted helmet helps protect your child’s brain in a crash or fall. Head injuries are a leading cause of serious injury and death to kids on bicycles,” says Solomon.

“A properly worn bike helmet can cut the risk of serious head injury by up to 80 per cent. This means four out of five brain injuries could be prevented, if every cyclist wore a helmet.”

Tips for cyclists:

  • Wear a helmet that fits properly!
  • Remain visible by using a headlight, a red taillight, and a red rear reflector.
  • Follow the rules of the road.
  • Drivers, slow down! When drivers slow down to speeds between 30 and 40 km/h, injuries to children on bicycles are reduced by 48 per cent.

Legislation mandating cyclists to wear helmets has been shown to be highly effective in having more children and adults wear helmets, and fewer injuries.

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