On May 17, 2016 at Campbell Elementary School in Metuchen and May 20, 2016 at Hazelwood Elementary School in the Borough of Middlesex, the New Jersey Ambassadors in Motion joined with Keep Middlesex Moving (KMM) to facilitate a bicycle rodeo. A bicycle rodeo is an educational event that provides an opportunity for participants to learn about and practice their bicycle handling skills. Bicycle rodeos were designed out of the need to educate young riders on the skills needed to bike safely in their communities.
Bicycle rodeos consist of several stations, each requiring a different skill from participants. Ambassadors were positioned at each station to assist the children. Children began by passing through the helmet check, to ensure that their helmets fit properly. Then they continued to the bicycle check, where Ambassadors preformed the ABC-Quick Check and utilized tools to repair bikes accordingly. Most of the bicycles were in good condition, although many required simple seat adjustments.
The remaining stations gave children the opportunity to demonstrate their bicycle skills. The Ambassadors explained the instructions and purpose of the exercises at each station. Participants practiced starting, riding in a straight line, and stopping. Then children learned to make turns using hand signals. Participants then practiced dodging obstacles by following arrows to maneuver around a cluster of tennis balls set up to mimic rocks, glass, potholes or other obstacles. At the next station, children rode through a figure 8 and practiced slowing down and yielding. Finally, children practiced scanning before making a turn by riding, looking over their shoulder, and calling out the number of hands that a KMM representative was holding up. This exercise gave children the opportunity to practice multiple skills such as riding in a straight line and using turn signals.
At each rodeo there were between thirty to thirty five participants ranging from second to fourth grade. As commonly found, comfort in riding the bicycle increased with age as students in the third and fourth grade struggled less with riding in a straight line than did second graders. However, unfamiliarity with turn signals and discomfort letting one hand off of the handle bars to make the turn signal was apparent at all age groups. When giving the option to free ride or go through the course a second time most children chose to ride through the course again.
For more information on how the Ambassadors can help you educate and promote safe bicycling and walking, click here.