PORTAGE | Kids showed up 30 minutes early Saturday morning for Portage’s annual Bicycle Rodeo, hosted by the Portage Fire and Police departments.
Angela Rosales, who brought her two boys Christian, 8, and Alex, 6, said, “We’ve been counting down the days until the bike safety day. They wouldn’t let me forget! And of course, I want my kids to be safe and to learn the rules of the road.”
The Willowcreek Middle School parking lot was transformed into a simulated city, complete with road signs, obstacle courses, pedestrian crossings, railroad crossings, and one-way streets. Firefighters manned the course, giving guidance and safety tips in key areas.
One highlight of the course was the Portage Police’s radar trailer, which showed the kids how fast they were riding. As kids smiled and pumped their pedals as hard as they could, some reached 15 miles an hour, highlighting the need for helmets.
Assistant Fire Chief Dan Kodicek expected around 150 kids to go through the course and to give away close to 100 helmets. Correctly fitting helmets are a key element of bike safety.
“When children have trauma, that’s a really dangerous combination,” explains Kodicek. “Children have fewer warning signs and less ability to communicate, so we want to do everything we can to prevent injury and to keep kids safe.”
Kodicek continued, “Many people have been shocked that we have adult helmets, too. But children always watch their parents and model their behavior, so it’s extremely important for parents to wear helmets, too.”
Don Summers, a Kiwanis member who was on hand to help fit kids’ helmets, said, “We see a lot of the same kids every year, and they’ve grown out of their helmets from the year before.”
Anne Pickering brought two of her grandchildren - Lindsey, 8, and Olivia, 5. “I try to come every year,” Pickering says, “so the kids can get their new helmets and get fitted properly.” Wearing sparkling red helmets, Lindsey and Olivia raced off to the safety course.