Editorial: Bicycle rodeos keep children safe
June 4, 2008
There is perhaps no better pastime for a child than riding a bicycle. It’s great exercise. It enables children to play with others in the neighborhood. And, after initial expenses, it’s relatively cheap and efficient.
Still, if approached carelessly, a child and a bicycle can be a dangerous combination. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 600 bicyclists have been killed in accidents nationally every year since 1996 and about 40,000 a year are injured.
Understanding the dangers, city officials in both Snoqualmie and North Bend each year organize bicycle safety rodeos. North Bend’s is scheduled for 10 a.m. this Saturday at North Bend Elementary. Snoqualmie’s will be the following weekend, June 14, at Cascade View Elementary.
Bike safety begins with bicycle helmets. The law says all bike riders must wear a helmet, and for good reason. Research shows that bike helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and lower the brain-injury risk by 88 percent. If children don’t have helmets, they can get a free one at either bike rodeo.
At the bike rodeos, children also can get their helmets and bikes checked out by trained eyes. Most parents don’t take time to adjust helmets correctly to protect fragile skulls, or to look for loose bicycle chains. At the bike rodeos, pros will do both at no charge while kids get a tutorial in navigation, learning hand signals, how to stop at crosswalks and other helpful hints.
What may be the most beneficial part of the bicycle rodeos, though, is the emphasis on safety in the midst of a having a good time. Adults and kids alike will come away with new skills and an appreciation for following safety guidelines.
You may be beyond the bicycle years and have no children to worry about. But as a driver, you have a responsibility to look out for bicycle riders, sharing the road with their safety in mind. More than 90 percent of bicycle deaths involve a motor vehicle. Please be careful when driving in neighborhoods and around schools.
Bicycles have been a staple of childhood fun for decades. We can all do our part to make sure it stays that way for years to come.