“We thought that perhaps many children aren’t really being taught bike safety, even though more and more kids are out on bikes these days,” said Marja Smellink, a member of the Optimist Club of South Dundas, organizers of the Bike Safety Rodeo held at Matilda Hall on Saturday, June 1. “And we thought that it was important for our local kids to get some proper training before the bad habits set in. Canada is a little behind in this area. In Europe, bike safety is strongly emphasized.”
The 23 members of the Club, under president Peter Biemond, called on the O.P.P. and the RCMP (club member Hugo Desrochers is a member of the force) for help in putting the rodeo together.
Constable Darren Hawkins and corporal M.J. Homsy of the RCMP, along with O.P.P. constable Theresa Lauzon and acting sergeant Bryce Fournier, with the SD&G Auxiliary, were all on hand to assist.
Several volunteers on site helped with the training and with the food (milk was donated by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.) The Iroquois Branch of Scouts Canada also came out to lend support. Traffic signs were loaned by the Snowmobile Club.
The bike course was laid out to teach young riders how to use hand signals and to safely manoeuvre through intersections. Youngsters saw a training film and were able to take a short written test (which gained them points towards special gifts) as they learned the rules of the road.
“We had over 20 kids go through the training this morning,” said constable Lauzon. “We really believe that education is the key to safety, especially when it is presented in a fun way like this. I expect some of the parents here are also picking up some information.”
Hannah Biemond and Ella Desrochers were the lucky winners of two bikes donated to the rodeo by Morrisburg Canadian Tire. Canadian Tire also donated bicycle bells for every participant.
A real highlight at the Bike Rodeo was the arrival (with Hawkins and Homsy) of two recently retired members of the RCMP Musical Ride. Horses Sherif and Rocomo drew many young admirers, at the same time reminding everyone that horses were around even before bikes.