ASHVILLE-As warmer temperatures and summer vacation lure more and more children outdoors, the need for bike safety becomes all the more important.
On Friday, third-graders from Bush Elementary School participated in a biker safety course at the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village in Ashville.
The two-hour course provided students with a classroom tutorial on biking fundamentals like road signs, hand signals and helmet fitting. It also gave them the opportunity to ride their bikes through the Safety Village itself.
“Everything we do here is hands-on training,” said Terri Kindberg, executive director of the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village. “We teach kids about proper fitting for their bikes, seat adjustment, the rules of the road … and then they have to ride using (everything) they learned in class.”
Students spent nearly 10-15 minutes riding around the village, weaving through miniature banks, restaurants and shops. At each turn, they were forced to stop at stop signs, traffic lights and even a railroad crossing, using proper hand signals at each.
“Bike safety is very important,” Kindberg said. “We’ve really tried to make a difference in the number of injuries that are sustained by children in our community, either from not wearing helmets or not riding with traffic properly. At this age, we don’t want to encourage kids to be out on the road … we want them to ride where Mom and Dad want them to ride. We’re just encouraging them to be safe.”
The Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village is a not-for-profit organization that began in 1996, after members from the Sertoma Club of Jamestown became inspired by the Waterloo Safety Village in Canada.
Through the effort of the community, Chautauqua County was able to open its own Safety Village in 2010.
Since then, approximately 12,000 students have visited and participated in the program.
Kindberg thanked Wal-Mart and Hollyloft for donating bikes to the program, as well as Real Estate Advantage for donating a lifetime supply of helmets.
She also thanked Katie LeBarron and Barb Prince with Foster Grandparents, along with Don Nelson of the RSVP Program for their assistance.