As the temperatures warm up, two events this week will highlight kids’ cycling and safety in Sitka — the Sitka Bike Rodeo on Saturday, May 2, and the second annual National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 6. These two events and others will help kick off National Bike Month (May) in Sitka.
The Sitka Bike Rodeo is an annual event sponsored by the Sitka Rotary Club and U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka. This year’s bike rodeo takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at the Coast Guard hangar. The target audience for this event is children age 12 and younger. Kids need to bring their bike, a helmet and a parent to this event, which will happen rain or shine.
“It’s a good chance for kids to make sure they and their bikes are ready to hit the roads and sidewalks for the busy spring and summer biking months,” event organizer Shannon Haugland said. “They can get their tires and brakes checked, make sure their helmets fit properly, put some fresh reflective gear on their bikes and clothing, and even get a new helmet. The favorite event is the obstacle course, where kids learn the rules of the road while testing their bike control skills.”
Other event sponsors include Sitka Community Hospital, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Girls Scouts of Alaska Troop 4140, and the Sitka Police Department. For more info about the Sitka Bike Rodeo, call Shannon Haugland at 738-0602.
On Wednesday, May 6, schools all over the country will encourage students to hope on their bikes for the third annual National Bike to School Day. Some schools will offer special events and prizes during the day. Schools in Sitka have signed up to host events, and many other Alaska communities are hosting bike rides to school. It’s not too late to organize one for your school To encourage safety, parents are encouraged to ride their own bikes with their kids as they head to school.
There also will be classroom presentations of bike safety information, quizzes and other contests on Wednesday-Thursday, May 6-7, at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Blatchley Middle School by the Sitka Community Hospital Injury Prevention Program and the Sitka School District‘s Live-Well Program. Those students who complete the quiz will be entered into a drawing for a bike, courtesy of Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop and the Live-Well Program (in addition, during the classroom presentations kids will be given a special password for a 20-percent discount during May at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop).
Since it’s spring, here are a few bike safety rules for the kids:
- Wear a properly fitting bike helmet (click here to learn how to fit a helmet). Not only is it a good way to protect yourself from head injuries, Sitka has a youth helmet ordinance that requires all children age 18 or younger to wear helmets when they ride bikes, trikes, skateboards, scooters and similar vehicles.
- Right on the right side of the road, with traffic not against it. Older kids (age 11 and older) and adults should avoid riding their bikes on the sidewalks, especially downtown where there are lots of walkers (a bike can seriously injure elders who doesn’t hear the bike rider coming up behind them).
- Wear bright clothes and make sure you have a working solid white headlight and flashing red taillight on your bike, especially if you ride when it’s dark. Wear a reflective vest or arm bands/leg bands, and put reflective tape on your clothes and/or bike frame so it’s easier for drivers to see you on the bike.
- Know the rules of the road, and follow them. Stop at all stop signs and stop lights. Ride in a safe, predictable manner so cars know where you’re going. Use hand signals for all turns. Yield to traffic when appropriate.
- Check your bike before riding it, especially the ABCs — Air (tires have the right amount of air), Brakes (the brakes work and will stop your tire so it skids on the pavement) and Chain (make sure the chain is the right tension and there are no damaged links, oil if necessary).
- For more bike safety rules for kids, click here.