GC kids learn ways<br>to stay safe on bikes<br>

An 8-year-old boy gets a new bicycle for his birthday. The youngster takes it out on a path for a spin, escapes getting hit by a car crossing the road but then falls down and hurts himself on the pavement without a helmet.

Alex Thomas was one of about 70 students taking part in a bicycle safety program at Grand Canyon School.

Although that situation is fictitious, such a scenario has probably happened, whether in Arizona or anywhere else in the United States. When kids get onto a bicycle, there are responsibilities that go along with it. That was the message at a recent bicycle safety program at Grand Canyon School.

“Students were given a short message about the legal requirements for riding a bicycle on paths and roadways,” Grand Canyon DARE officer Ronnie Gibson said. “Items covered included proper hand signals, appropriate compliance with the legal requirements of highway signs and laws and the importance of using a bike helmet.”

In a demonstration of the importance of correctly-worn helmets, a watermelon was properly strapped in a helmet, another was strapped into a so-called cheaper helmet and a third watermelon was not strapped into a helmet at all. They were then dropped from shoulder height.

The watermelon in the properly worn helmet was protected, while the others were shattered in the simulated fall.

There was also a skills test for participating riders. They had to demonstrate all the proper hand signals and rider actions on a short path, crosswalk and roadway course.

“They could then choose to ride some or all of three other courses for bike-handling skill,” Gibson said. “These included throwing newspapers into buckets, moving a traffic cone from one square to a second one 21 feet away and navigating a 10-foot square cone box, all without stopping the bicycle.”

The bicycle registration portion of the program was designated as a Community Support Activity of the National Park Service.

“This aids in recovering and identifying bicycles that are stolen, joyridden or abandoned,” Gibson said. “Thirty-one students had their bicycles registered at this event.”

Gibson said about 50 bicycles from first to sixth grade were at the event with approximately 70 students participating. Gibson said many students loaned their bikes to others who did not bring their own.

A pair of bicycle patrol officers from the Tempe Police Department, Sgt. Kim Schroyer and Officer James Click, were on hand to conduct a bicycle patrol course in the park. The officers along with the bike patrol class participated in the event. The Tempe police officers also donated three new bike helmets which were awarded to top performing students.

Along with Gibson, other park rangers taking part in the May 23 event were Fred Perl, bike patrol coordinator; Dirk Murphy, Steve Martin and Rita Skeet.

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