By TIM CLEVELAND
With summer in full swing, many area children are out and about riding their bikes. Unfortunately, some of them are unaware of proper safety procedures and do not wear helmets and other safety gear.
On July 21, Mill Creek MetroParks’ Fellows Riverside Gardens hosted a bike safety event, with activities and lessons on bike safety. The event was put on by the park and Akron Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Mahoning Valley.
“I think the overall bicycle safety is very important,” MillCreek MetroParks programs and events coordinator Rikki Brammer said. “Obviously in the summer, families are out, and we just to make sure that we raise awareness of how important it is to wear a helmet and just be aware of your surroundings when you do any sort of cycling. Especially in the park, there’s lots of cars going through, plus we’ve had many, many accidents in the park involving children throughout Mahoning County.”
Brammer said she was hoping for upwards of 200 people to attend the event. In addition to the bike safety lessons, there were also a coloring contest, fittings and bike helmet giveaways, giveaways of goodie bags of water bottles, first aid kits, bike safety tip sheets and reflective bracelets.
MetroParks police officer Christian Hunter conducted the bike safety lesson, focusing on showing what to watch out for when riding, what direction to ride in traffic, always wearing a helmet and making sure the helmet fits properly.
“Every year, we see thousands of children in and out of emergency rooms nationwide, so we really want to focus on getting the helmets on the children and explaining to them why they need to wear their helmet,” Akron Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Mahoning Valley injury prevention coalition coordinator Gia Ramsey said. “If the children have a helmet and they don’t know why, or the correct way to wear it, it could be an issue, so that’s what we’re focusing on today.”
Ramsey added that there would be a Bike Rodeo at Fellows Riverside Gardens on May 19, 2015. The event will have children bring their bikes and go through safety courses.
They will learn to stop, swerve, turn and ride their bikes properly. Their bikes will also get checked out by professionals.
“We wanted to do a smaller event this year and then we’ll have a big one next year with more helmet giveaways and the rodeo,” Ramsey said.
Alicia Burnfield of Canfield brought her children, Peyton and Chase, to the event.
“We just wanted to promote safety and just to let them know that they should wear their helmets when they ride and it’s a cool thing to do,” Alicia said.
Burnfield was asked if her children had much bike riding experience.
“Not too much yet, so we’re getting them started early with the helmets,” she said.
“This program’s about getting kids in helmets and fitted properly, and having a little bit of fun doing it,” Brammer said.