SPD, safety organizations host ‘Bike Rodeo’ for young cyclists

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) – Ready, set, slow!

Kids are about to head back to class, which means they’ll be hitting the asphalt on bicycles too. To get them prepared, the Sarasota Police Department, along with the Sarasota-Manatee Bike Club and Core SRQ, hosted its annual “Bike Rodeo” over the weekend.

Saturday’s event welcomed families from all over Sarasota to learn key bike safety lessons and pick up free equipment to make sure those kids start the school year on the right pedal.

For kids like Curtis Ward, a lesson or two could be a life saver. He said he rides his bike out on the town just about every day, so his family wants to make sure he keeps his head on a swivel as cars drive past.

“I like going out with my friend Angela,” Ward said while sitting atop a bike. “We both like to ride around the area.”

Instructors at the rodeo are trying to impress a few main lessons upon Curtis, along with the rest of the crowd. They want the young riders to ride alongside traffic, wear a helmet every time they get on two wheels and keep a close eye on their surroundings.

Eugene Rider, a member of the Sarasota-Manatee Bike Club who organized the event, emphasized it’s really important the kids take this advice to heart, especially in this area. Sadly, he hears about situations “all the time” where a cyclist is hit or nearly hit by a car.

That’s why SPD donated hundreds of free helmets and bike lights to the kids at the rodeo. It’s a generous action that could prevent many of those children from suffering serious injuries.

“For me, the real idea of ​​success is the smile on their face and the glow that they have as they’re walking away with their new helmet, and they’re walking away with a bike they can actually ride,” Rider said. “And they look more confident.”

The confidence was clear on the faces of many of the young bikers cruising through chalk obstacle courses, finding their footing as they learn to navigate the complex world of neighborhood roadways.

“I kind of feel happy that I’m learning all these things, so I don’t get hit by something,” Ward said.

Event organizers are also emphasizing safety isn’t just on the shoulders of the bikers, but on drivers too. Everyone on the road needs to remember that the roads are shared equally between cars and bikes, so drivers should keep a three-foot gap between them and cyclists to steer clear of accidents.

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