05-27-09 Officers Teach Bike Safety to Kids!
Photo on left: Bike Patrol Officer Kevin O'Rourke reveals to Horizon Elementary 3rd graders the results after dropping an egg protected in it's "helmet", a styrofoam cup.
Photo on right: Bike Patrol Officer Tony Dotson asks kids how many have gotten scrapes or even broken bones riding their bikes. Officer Dotson went onto explain the difference between a broken bone and a brain injury, illustrating the importance of wearing a helmet.
As school winds down
and more children will be riding bikes in their neighborhoods through the summer, Boise Police Bike Patrol Officers have been instructing bike safety classes to grade schoolers all over the city. This day, Boise officers were giving safety tips to very attentive third grade students at West Boise's Horizon Elementary School.
"Kids love riding bikes and Boise is a great place to ride. But most importantly, we want the kids to be safe while they're having fun," said Sgt. Clair Walker of the Boise PD Bike Patrol unit. "We'll be giving the kids a lot of the same safety advice they get from their parents. Hearing those safety rules from a police officer will hopefully help students by really driving home their importance."
"The word is always out to motorists to watch for cyclists, who are much less visible. We tell kids to remember they need to watch for motorists too, to wear their helmets in case of falls, and to know some basic bike safety road rules. That's what this lesson is about - helping kids learn to keep themselves safe." said Sgt. Walker.
The officers bike safety lessons make learning fun. The officers talk to students about everything from wearing helmets, to road rules, to safety equipment checks.
"The focus for kids this age is really helmets," said Bike Officer Tony Dotson, whose been a member of the Boise Police Bike Patrol for the past six years. "We show them how to properly wear their helmet, and we have a lot of fun with an egg demonstration that shows them in a memorable way why it's so important to wear a helmet."
The officers explain to kids that helmets help prevent head and brain injuries. The officers explain how brain injuries can change the child's life forever, as opposed to a scrape or even broken bone that will heal. The officers have fun with the kids demonstrating how helmets protect the brain in a fall. One child drops an unprotected egg, and another child drops an egg wrapped in paper towels and tucked inside a styrofoam cup. The unprotected egg breaks, while the protected egg doesn't. The kids have fun seeing the outcome and learn the importance of wearing their helmet!
The officers also demonstrate to students how a helmet should fit for best protection. The officers show the kids if a helmet is too loose or too tight it won't work properly in protecting their head from a fall. Officer Dotson demonstrated tilting his head and bike helmet from side to side, forwards and back, and showed the students if the helmet rolls around or even falls off, it's not fitted properly. The chin strap shouldn't be too tight, but should not easily pull over the chin.
The "ABC Quick Check" was explained to the kids by veteran bike Officer Kevin O'Rourke.
"The 'ABC Quick Check' is something the kids can remember, and a good way to emphasize the importance of proper equipment," said Officer O'Rourke. "By third and fourth grade, the kids are pretty good on their bikes, and they're getting old enough to know these basic but important safety maintenance checks."
The "ABC Quick Check" is:
A - Air. Check tires. If they're low, fill them.
B- Brakes. Check that brakes, whether on the handlebars or pedals, are working.
C- Chain. Check that the chain is clean, oiled, and in place.
Along with always wearing helmets and the 'ABC Quick Check', other safety tips Boise Police give to students include:
- When meeting a motorist at a turn or stop sign, make eye contact with the driver before going ahead to be sure the driver sees you. Officers explain to students that sometimes motorists get distracted, even though they shouldn't, so cyclists need to do all they can to make sure a driver sees you.
- Stop at all stop signs to check for traffic.
- Wear bright colored clothing to be more visible to motorists. Boise bike officers wear bright white shirts.
- Wear closed-toed shoes, not flip flops for safety.
- It's OK to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but watch out and slow down for pedestrians who have the right of way.
- Don't ride at night without a parents permission.
- If you do ride at night, have a headlight and rear reflector mounted on your bike. The headlight and reflector are not for the cyclist to see, but for the cyclist to be seen by motorists.
- If you have to cross the street, walk your bike or ride slowly across streets in crosswalks.
- Always ride on the right side of the road, the same way as traffic. Don't ride in gutters as trash or other obstacles can cause a crash.
- Always tell your parents where you're going on your bike and stay close to home.
- Ride with a friend as often as possible.
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