We had a "Bike Rodeo" last night!
It started out as an activity for my Cub Scouts (I'm a cubmaster these days). But then, good fortune befell me! I contacted bike advocate extraordinaire Lisa Brady, and the wheels started turning. Besides being an enthusiastic transportation cyclist, Lisa is the head honcho of local advocacy group Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance. But even more significantly, she's in charge of the YMCA Safe Routes to School program. Lisa and her Safe Routes colleagues were happy to jump in and help.
With some encouragement from Lisa, we expanded the scope, and invited all the school-age kids, and their parents, of our church congregation. We did our best to publicize and encourage. (We were a bit concerned because yesterday was also the first day of school for most of our kids... would that be a distraction? Would people forget?)
Our concerns turned out to be unfounded. We roped off a big section of a huge asphalt parking lot. Lisa and her team laid out the course, and explained how the adult volunteers could help. The first kids started showing up about 5 minutes early; in keeping with a longstanding church tradition, most people didn't show up 'til 5 minutes late.
What a fantastic group we got! I bet we had 30-35 kids there, ranging in age from 3 up to 16. Most were on bikes... a few had scooters or skateboards. Our "pros" started out with a 10-minute discussion about safety and surviving on the streets. (It was aimed as much at the parents as the kids.) They told 'em, "If you don't remember anything else from tonight, LIGHTS AT NIGHT and RIDE ON THE RIGHT!" Visible... predictable... legal.
Most of the kids rode the "skill course" - and most rode it 4 or 5 times. And then it was just sheer delight to see 30 or so kids on their bikes, happily "free riding" around in the parking lot. There were 1 or 2 minor mishaps... but the victims hopped right back up and the first aid kit stayed latched.
Then it was time for a short road ride. Lisa asked if I would be ride leader - sure! (Granddaughter Bonnie, on the Tag-Along, was stoked. She hollered, "Ready, set, go!" and we were off!)
I was pretty ambitious... my selected route was probably a mile. (I deviated a bit from the envisioned route, because there were a lot of cars parallel-parked along the first road.) The group completed the loop in probably 15 minutes. Lisa said it was all good, because the neighborhood got a good dose of kids-on-bikes-on-the-road... and everybody survived!
I've done a few bike rodeos over the years, but this was the most successful, thanks to passionate and expert helpers. My sincere thanks to Lisa Brady and the Safe Routes to School people. If we saved one child from being injured or killed, it was time and effort well spent! (My only regret? I took my small camera, which accompanies me 'most everywhere, but in all the excitement it remained in my pocket! D'oh! You'll have to take my word for it - no photos.)