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Kids round up their bikes for annual safety rodeo

Four-year-old Carolyn Keenan gets a taste of bike riding on a pair of training wheels during the Bike Safety Rodeo last Saturday afternoon at GES. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)

Emma Keenan waits patiently as a volunteer from a local sports business inspects and spruces up her bike. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
May 05, 2010
Dozens of children came with helmets in hand, ready to ride bicycles with training wheels or mountain bikes, for Gilford's annual Bike Safety Rodeo.

The Gilford Recreation Department hosts the rodeo in conjunction with the Gilford Police Department on a yearly basis to ensure that children's bikes are in prime shape and that kids are well prepared for the obstacles ahead of them on the road.

Recreation Department Director Herb Greene said MC Cycle & Sport in Laconia, along with EndorFun Sports, which sponsors the Timberman race, helped out at the rodeo last Saturday in the Gilford Elementary School parking lot.

"We had over 20 kids working on their riding skills through a course we set up at GES," said Greene.

Gilford Fire Rescue also stopped by and helped out with the rodeo for a few hours as well.

Throughout the course, children practiced how to mount and dismount, control and maneuver their movements, balance on their bike at a slow speed, turn in small spaces, use their brakes and signals, and be aware at traffic light intersections.

Greene said it's spring time, so not only are kids anxious to get out on their bikes, but bike licenses start to expire as well this time of year, which makes the timing of this rodeo an obvious choice.

"Some kids are just starting on training wheels, and we go over safety information and biking tips with them," he said.

With the help of the Police Department, Greene said they were able to record the bike serial numbers, which can be tracked and updated on an annual basis.

Chief of Police John Markland brought his motorcycle rather than his bicycle last Saturday and said the annual Bike Safety Rodeo has been held ever since he could remember, even back in 1988 when he started with the department.

Although safety is an important aspect of the rodeo, Markland said the Police Department's goal is to register each child's bike.

"We want to get as many bikes as we can registered in town so if it stolen, we can find it and recover it," said Markland. "That is rare in this community, but it's not rare for a child to leave their bike somewhere. If it's registered, we can contact the owner."

Markland said the children are put through a course where they learn how to use hand signals and the proper way to ride a bike on the road.

"If they pass the course, they get a certificate, a goody bag, and all sorts of free items," said Markland. "Plus, they get a free inspection."

He said it is important to bring safety issues with biking on roads to the attention of children who may not otherwise realize the dangers of not using a helmet, or not riding their bike properly.

Each child got a goody bag filled with safety tips from the NH Highway Safety Agency and a few fun items for their hard work.

EndorFun Sports donated a bike for the raffle, while M C Cycle & Sport volunteered to do tune-ups, safety checks, and oil the chains on children's bikes.

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