Once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget. But everyone can use an occasional refresher on safety and rules of the road. The annual Youth Bike Safety Rodeo held Friday at Brit Spaugh Park provided tips for both beginners and seasoned riders.
Pam Stiles, R.N., from the Barton County Health Department said several groups come together every year to offer the free event for children 5 to 12 years old. Seventy children registered this year.
“We want to get the information out early, before they’re riding all over town,” Stiles said.
Children who didn’t have helmets or bicycles were fitted for them, or they could bring a bike they’d outgrown to trade in for a bigger one. The Health Department provided free helmets, which were ordered from the Kansas Safe Kids Coalition. The Barton County Landfill delivered used bicycles, which had been refurbished by inmates at Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Landfill Manager Phil Hathcock said people can always bring old bikes to the landfill so they can be taken to the correctional facility.
Golden Belt Bicycle Company employees were on hand to help each child find a bike that was a good fit, and to make quick repairs and adjustments.
The bikes were registered with the Great Bend Police Department, which waived its normal $1 registration fee.
Great Bend Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Officer Jefferson Davis and Dr. Jill Doerfler, M.D., gave the first safety talk. Before becoming a physician and eventually coming to work at St. Rose Heath Center in Great Bend, Dr. Doerfler was a motorcycle cop.
“I’m a spokesperson for helmets,” Doerfler told the boys and girls. “I had six (motorcycle) accidents, and I’m still here – and I still have my brains intact so I could become a doctor.”
She continued to wear a helmet after she switched from riding a motorcycle to riding a mountain bike, she added.
The GBPD is reinstating bicycle patrols this year, Davis said. “When you see us on our bikes, you know we’ll be wearing a helmet.”
As the kids joined volunteers for a ride around the park, they stopped at four more learning stations. Community volunteer Deanna Curtis talked about left turns; Pat Stiles (Pam’s husband) talked about right turns, Sheriff Brian Bellendir talked about rules of the road, and Great Bend Police Chief Cliff Couch talked about safe stopping.
Sponsors of the Youth Bike Safety Rodeo were Barton County Sheriff’s Office,Barton County Landfill, Great Bend Police Department, Barton County Health Department, Be Well Barton County and Golden Belt Bicycle. Walmart provided snacks, and there were also several community volunteers.