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Young bike riders test skills

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The bicycle season is now in high gear in Yellowknife, thanks in part to the annual bike rodeo put on by the Municipal Enforcement Division at the Multiplex arena Sunday.

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Cst. Daniel Larocque assists Emily Dillon, 5, at one of the bike rodeo sites Sunday.

Cpl. Daryle Foster, the rodeo co-ordinator said 255 kids came through the Shorty Brown Arena to have their bikes checked for the upcoming season and to be tested on their road safety knowledge.

"The overall theme of (the rodeo) is bicycle safety and awareness," said Foster. "I think the safety aspect of it is they get to learn some bicycle skills and we emphasize the use of helmets and riding safe. With bike awareness we have the general public knowing that we are putting on this kind of event and that there are going to be kids out in the community on bicycles."

Children rode their bikes through a number of stations, including a checkpoint where Const. Aaron Kerr and other city volunteers checked tire pressure, brakes and the overall condition of the cycles.

BHP Billiton, which has been assisting with the event for nine years, provided 12 staff members to volunteer. Volunteers checked helmets and provided new ones to cyclists and helped out with barbecuing.

"Safety is our core value and any community group that does something like this we are thrilled to see and thrilled to partner with the city on this one again this year," said Jeffrey Legaree, one of the volunteers.

Legaree said in cases where there are leftover helmets, BHP gives them to the Department of Transportation's Drive Alive program to distribute to the community.

Participating children also rode through six stations on the arena floor to test their ability to avoid road hazards, exercise hand signals and road stops, and ride in a straight line.

Sharon Oldford, principal at N.J. Macpherson School, took her seven-year-old son Riley, who rides a pedal car, to the event. She said the bike rodeo is great because it builds positive relationships between young people and the city.

"I think it is an excellent opportunity to promote safety," she said. "I think it is important to ensure that kids are not only wearing helmets but that they are properly fit. A lot of people have helmets that don't fit properly."

She said she gets many kindergarten to Grade 5 students who ride to school independently and sees it as great opportunity to run through the rules of the road for young cyclists.

Participants in the event left with a number of goodies including a gift bag with a lock, water bottle and a Ruth Inch Memorial Pool pass.

Foster said the city aims to promote bike safety messages to all children in the city before they hit Grade 6. This includes a speaking tour to all the schools in the area leading up to the bike rodeo.

While the Municipal Enforcement Division does most of the legwork for the city, he said it wouldn't be possible without many of the sponsors and overall partners. The grand prize for the event, for instance, was a trip for two from First Air. Great Slave Helicopters also provided a trip for three and Air Tindi gave away a trip for seven on a floatplane.

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