Don’t let the name fool you.
A bike rodeo does not feature horses, bulls or roping of any kind. What it does offer is a way for children to learn proper bike maintenance and safety.
Approximately 250 children at Big Park Community School participated in this year’s annual bike rodeo, which was presented by the Sedona Fire District. In addition, Farmers Insurance agent Don Nelms and the Sedona Verde Valley Fire Fighter Charities teamed to donate four bicycles for a drawing.
Students were invited to bring their bicycles to school on Friday, May 12, to participate in the event.
“Thanks to our very own Carla Dufort [SFD administrative specialist], the event was an amazing success,” Fire Marshal Jon Davis said. “Carla deserves all of the credit for planning and organizing this event. It is great to see all of the kids getting their bikes safety-checked and learning the basics of safe bicycling techniques.”
Davis went on to say, “The goal of this event is for young riders to learn safety skills for the common hazards that they may encounter, and most importantly, to have fun.”
He also said it’s SFD’s goal to encourage children to live healthy and active lifestyles while also building an understanding of how they can take actions to be safe. The bike rodeo promotes the concept that skill translates into safety, and that being safe is both smart and cool, he said.
Heather Klomparens, a health educator from Yavapai County, helped kick off the event earlier that morning with a ride-to-school day. In all more than 100 students rode their bikes from Weber’s IGA, down to the golf course and then to the school.
“We do a walk to school event in the fall and the kids love it so we thought we’d try this,” she said. “It was a very good turnout and a lot of fun.”
Klomparens said events like the bike rodeo are important because it teaches kids basic safety before they ride as well as when they are on the road such as stopping at stop signs, staying in the bike lane and slowing while down hills.
One of the more popular parts of the rodeo had nothing to do with bikes but plenty to do with safety. The Arizona Department of Public Safety brought its rollover simulator.
In it are two dummies, each weighing about 50 pounds. Trooper I. Simon first demonstrated what can occur when the passengers are wearing seat belts. The second go-around was without
seat belts and both dummies were ejected.
“That’s what happens when you’re not wearing a seat belt,” he told the kids. “Oftentimes, the car rolls over on the person who was ejected or they die after hitting their head.”
Simon, who has showcased the simulator in front of many students, said he hopes they learn from an early age the importance of wearing their seat belt.
“This is a good visual learning device,” he said. “Hopefully that image will stick with them every time they get into a car.”
Like the others, kindergarten teacher Holly Kreun said it’s important to instill early on the importance of bike safety.
“An event like this is yet another place to hear about that importance in addition to what they’re hearing at home,” she said.
In addition to those mentioned, this event received support from Arizona Department of Public Safety, Guardian Air, Valley Academy of Career Technology Education, Weber’s IGA and the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition.
“This event represents a true partnership amongst the community and a dedication by local businesses and agencies to the children within our community,” Davis said.
Local bike shops including Absolute Bikes and Bike & Bean were on hand to inspect bikes for safety. Helmets were inspected by Yavapai County Community Health Services. In addition, tours of the Guardian Air ambulance helicopter were available.
“Kids are very impressionable so it’s important to teach them these skills early on,” SFD Chief Kris Kazian said. “The hope is that they will continue to use these skills as they get older.”