Bike Rodeo gives children instruction for a lifetime

Aug. 01, 2013 @ 06:49 PM

In the parking lot outside the Henderson Family YMCA Thursday, dozens of first- and second-graders sported clear, plastic shower caps.

The parking lot was the site of the Safe Kids Coalition’s annual Bike Rodeo, where about 80 kids younger than 16 learned about bike safety.

The kids wore shower caps as a hygiene measure under helmets that were a loan from Safe Kids N.C., a statewide organization with local coalitions working to prevent accidental childhood injuries and deaths.

This is the first year that the Safe Kids Henderson-Vance Bike Rodeo received bikes and helmets from the state coalition, along with orange cones for obstacles courses where kids could practice riding.

“We’ve had bike rodeos in the past, but we haven’t had all this equipment,” said Lt. Irvin Robinson, a member of the crime prevention unit at the Henderson Police Department.

At Thursday morning’s event, the officers emphasized the importance of helmets.

“We tell parents: get a helmet,” Robinson said. “(Helmets) are not that expensive and they can save your child’s life.”

Head injury is the leading cause of death in bike crashes, and helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, according to Safe Kids.

One of the stations at the bike rodeo is dedicated to helmets.

Robinson asked the kids crowded around the helmet station to raise their hand if they own a bike. Then he asked them to raise a hand if they own a helmet.

Almost all the kids raised a hand at the first question, but only a couple did for the second one.

Robinson adjusted a helmet on a dummy head, making sure it covered the forehead but not the eyes.

Sgt. Angela Feingold, who started Safe Kids Henderson-Vance with Robinson in 2001, was wearing her helmet all morning, even when she wasn’t on a bike.

The Henderson Police Department issues about five to 10 helmet citations per year, according to Sgt. Jessica West.

“The majority of parents don’t know it’s against the law for kids under 16 to ride a bike without a helmet,” Feingold said. “Parents want to keep their kids safe, but some of them don’t always have the information to do that.”

Matthew Beck, a 9-year-old who attended the rodeo, said he was thankful for his helmet when he was riding his bike last month and took a turn too quickly.

“I was going too fast and fell off my bike,” Beck said. “My head hit the ground but I was wearing my helmet that day.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.