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Kids attend Bike Safety Rodeo
new slt bike safety alejandro and rachel
Alejandro Dominguez, 11, is at the head of the line, followed by 6-year-old Rachel Clark and others, Thursday at the Bicycle Safety Rodeo. After hearing safety talks, choosing bikes and being fitted for helmets, children rode through an obstacle course at Brit Spaugh Park. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

In a scene reminiscent of the Oklahoma Land Rush, dozens of children ran onto the south baseball field at Brit Spaugh Park on Thursday to claim a free bicycle.

"I want the purple one!"

"Mom, I can ride this bike."

No one went away empty handed from the annual Bike Safety Rodeo for children 5-14 years old. Everyone who attended, whether they needed a bike or not, got a quick course in bicycle safety, and then tested their knowledge on a short obstacle course.

Sheriff Greg Armstrong said about 55 children attended this year’s Bike Safety Rodeo. "Some brought their own," he said, "but we gave away about 55 bikes and helmets." Some were given away to latecomers at the conclusion of the safety rodeo.

Even though sponsors would prefer children attend the event, they are still giving away bicycles. They have about 20 bikes that have been salvaged from the Barton County Landfill and refurbished by inmates at Ellsworth Correctional Facility. Anyone interested in getting a bicycle can call Central Prairie RC&D, 620-792-6224.

With the onset of summer, more bicycles are on the streets and sidewalks. A spokesman for the Great Bend Fire Department said there have been multiple calls in recent days where bicyclists on city sidewalks were hit by vehicles. At 1:11 p.m. Wednesday, a bicyclist swerved to avoid a vehicle at 17th and Jackson, and fell off the bike. Later in the afternoon a vehicle hit a bike exiting Walmart on 10th St. GBFD Ambulance responded in both cases, but no one was injured seriously enough to be transported to a hospital.

Here are some bicycle safety tips from the Kansas Department of Transportation and other sources:

• Wear a helmet.

• Stay off of sidewalks, especially if you will be crossing in front of traffic.

• Be visible. Wear bright clothes and consider adding a headlight and horn to the bicycle.

• Don’t swerve in and out of the parking lane if it has cars in it.

• Use hand signals.

• Make sure the bicycle is in good condition. Check the steering, tires and brakes.

The annual Bike Safety Rodeo is sponsored by the Barton County Health Department, Barton County Sheriff’s Office, Great Bend Police Department, Barton County Landfill and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.