Thursday, February 9, 2012

News-Press: Bicyclists learn safety at rodeo

Kudos to News-Press for covering last weekend's successful bike safety rodeo at 2 Cape Coral schools, co-sponsored by BikeWalkLee.  Thanks again toBWL'ers Steve Chupack and Dan Moser!

Lindsay Downey, Special to (2/9/12)
More than 150 cyclists practiced safety techniques and stood in line to have their bicycles professionally inspected Saturday in Cape Coral. They weren’t Spandex-wearing athletes showing off high-tech Schwinns, however.
These bike riders maneuvered pink Huffys and Rhinos with training wheels around the asphalt at Oasis Elementary during the school’s first Bicycle Safety Rodeo.

Students at Oasis and Christa McAuliffe, Cape Coral’s charter elementary schools, were invited to learn proper riding techniques during what organizers hope will become an annual event.

“There are a lot of kids on the road nowadays and not all of them know the rules of the road,” volunteer Tim Wilson said. “This event can probably save a future accident (from happening).”

Vincent Penta and his 5-year-old daughter, Sophia, watched while Hollywood Bicycle Center employee Robert Ossichak studied Sophia’s princess-themed Huffy, complete with streamers, petal-shaped pedals and heart cutouts at the spokes.

Sophia shook her pink-and-silver helmet “yes” when Ossichak asked if she felt comfortable braking, and waited while he tightened her handlebars.

At the nearby obstacle course, children weaved their bikes between orange cones and practiced a “rock dodge,” rolling their tires between bumps in the road. They prepared for a “snail race” for balance later in the day, during which the slowest rider would win.

It’s important for children to learn safety from the get-go, particularly in a warm-weather city where biking is popular, said Wendy Hearyman, physical education teacher at Christa McAuliffe.

About 17 percent, or 8,000, of the roughly 51,000 cyclists injured in the U.S. in 2009 were under 14, according to the latest statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“This is the Sunshine State,” Hearyman said. “I see a lot of kids riding their bikes to the bus stop on the way to school.”
Rachel Edwards, 32, watched during the event while her 9-year-old daughter, Savanna, rode her blue Diamondback bike along the course.

“I wanted her to hear the rules of the road from someone other than me,” Edwards said. “It’s good for them to have outside reinforcement.”

The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida provided helmets for children who didn’t have them, and five organizations donated bikes for a giveaway. Each child received a raffle ticket for a chance to win a bike .

For more information

To learn more, visit For more on Cape’s charter schools, visit

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