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Pedal power
Local partnership gets bikes in the hands of youth
new deh BCSO bike give away main pic web
Barton County Under Sheriff Steve Billinger helps youngsters pick out bicycles during the Bicycle Safety Rodeo at the Barton County Fair Thursday morning. The Barton County Sheriffs Office teamed up with the Great Bend Police Department, the Barton County Health Department and the Barton County Landfill to give refurbished bikes to kids. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 Few things make kids happier than summer and bicycles. They had both Thursday morning at the Barton County Fairgrounds.

Taking place with the oft-delayed Barton County Bicycle Safety Rodeo where youngsters are fitted with a refurbished bike and helmet, and given safety tips by local law enforcement officers. It is a joint effort of the Barton County Sheriff’s Office, Great Bend Police Department, Crimestoppers, the Barton County Health Department, the Barton County Landfill and Golden Belt Bicycle Company.

Seeing more children on bikes is a good thing, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said. “It’s great to get kids outside and away from computers and cell phones.”

The old bikes are donated to the BCSO or wind up at the landfill. Once a year, they are loaded into a dumpster and are taken to Ellsworth Correctional Facility where inmates restore what they can.

This year, Bellendir said 60 came back to Great Bend. “There’s not cost,” he said, adding it wouldn’t be a problem to give away all the bikes to deserving riders.

At the fairgrounds, officers interacted with the kids as they wandered through the rows of bikes to find just the right one. Once they were ready to go, the youth pedaled the bikes around orange cones and up and down the parking lot with smiles on their faces.

“We know that children who ride bikes will be more active and healthier because of it,” said Janel Rose, Health Department health educator. 

There is also a more serious reason for the rodeo, Rose said. “Bike helmets that are properly fitted and worn every time for bike riding will prevent head injuries for community children and possibly save their lives in an accident. The Barton County Health Department and all of our partners in bike safety urge parents to make sure their children follow the rules of the road for bicyclists and wear helmets every time that children ride.”

The event was originally scheduled for May 20. However, bad weather and other emergencies forced it to be postponed twice.