Summer is just around the corner and that means kids on bikes. For the first time in five years Grand Marais will host a Bike Safety Rodeo and other bike-related activities. WTIPs Jay Andersen has this story.
Get Active Cook County week is May 17 through 23 and coincides with National Bike to Work week. Mark Spinler, of Superior North Outdoor Center says the point of the week-long observance to get moving.
Spinler: This week has been set aside to increase physical activity everywhere and anywhere in Cook County. Members of our community are encouraged to walk or ride bikes to work or for any other commuting type things, shopping, etc.
The observance actually starts a week early on Monday May 10. Local safety personnel will be at ISD166 and Great Expectations School to help students understand pedestrian safety and how to bike safely. According to Cook County North Shore Hospital nurse Christine Kunze they’ll be concentrating on the youngest students.
Kunze: Mostly we’re gearing this towards K through 5, is the target age at this point. We would need to teach the kids to cross the street safely. There’s been a 60 percent decrease in pedestrian and bicycle traffic since the 1970s, and that’s a decrease, and with that we would try to encourage people to walk safely and bike safely. In order to do that, you have to teach the little ones how to walk safely. So, you teach them how to cross the street safely by looking left, right, and left again when crossing and you keep looking when you cross, and you don’t run, you walk.
Kunze said young children do not yet have the ability to accurately judge speed and distance of vehicles, so they need to be taught caution.
Kunze: And so, to teach them to walk on sidewalks or paths or get off the road and walk facing into traffic. When you walk, you face into traffic; you walk into traffic to the far side of the left as possible.
Spinler added it was all about remembering to ride right and walk left and that will also be emphasized at the Bike Safety Rodeo, Wednesday, May 12, from 1 to 6pm. all students are invited to participate in the rodeo held in the Community Center parking lot. Spinler and other bike safety experts will check over kids’ bikes and Sheriff’s deputies and State Patrol officers will also help youngsters to safely peddle.
Spinler: The Bike Safety Rodeo is designed to help kids learn to operate their bikes safely while riding to and from home and school. They need to come with their bikes and their helmets. There will be a bunch of stations set up for them. The first station will be just registering for the Rodeo, and then next we’ll make sure their helmets are sized and adjusted properly and then we’ll do a safety inspection on their bicycle before they get involved in the stations in the Bike Safety Rodeo course, which are some basics on how to behave on the street safely while they’re riding their bicycle.
Kunze said if you don’t happen to have a bike, you can walk through the course.
Kunze: We had talked about people who don’t have bikes. My daughter is seven and she’s chosen not to have a bike this year. That’s fine. But, I said, “Well, you still need to come,” because we can walk her through path. She can be walked and she can be taught how to look at the driveways and look for those danger areas where she can’t see. She can complete the Rodeo walking, instead of riding, and it’s still safe. It would be a varied course, but it still teaches them how to look left, how to look right, how to look over your shoulders.
Spinler and Kunze emphasized that there are a number of safe paths to walk or ride to school and encourage parents to walk or ride with their children during the Get Active Cook County week. It could become habit forming…and healthy.
Kunze: The main thing is it’s about getting active and starting to form those lifestyles, especially in those younger years with obesity and high blood pressure running high in children. We really need to get our kids active, also. It’s very important that parents do that, and if parents are active, the kids are going to be active; grandparents are active, their grandkids are going to be active.
For WTIP News, I’m Jay Andersen