Police to host annual Bike Rodeo and Family Safety Day

5/25/2017 | Chris Maza

Category: May

Children at last year's Bike Rodeo.
Photo courtesy of Clotilde Percheminier

It’s probably happened to you.

It could even be a quick trip down the street. You could be paying complete attention to the road. You could be obeying every traffic law.

Then … gasp!

A child on a bicycle darts out from behind a parked car and you’re forced to react.

No one is hurt, but your heart is pounding and you think about how much worse it could be. You also wonder if that child knows just how lucky they were.

In 2015, 45,000 bicyclists were injured and 818 were killed according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a 10-year period, the number of injuries rose by an estimated 1,000 incidents per year.

May is Bike Safety Month and with that and these statistics in mind, West Springfield’s community police continue its mission of protecting the youngest riders from becoming a statistic with their annual Bike Rodeo and Family Safety Day.

“This is kind of a culmination of Bike Safety Month. We’re trying to instill safe riding behaviors and the rules of the road in kids so we can reduce the number of injuries that kids sustain,” Sgt. Brian Pomeroy explained. “The focus is on the younger kids – sixth grade and younger – because they are the ones who are out riding bikes the most.”

The Bike Rodeo will take place June 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the West Springfield Council on Aging and Senior Center. The event is free and open to all elementary school-aged children.

“We just want kids to be safe. Every year there are probably thousands of kids who are injured and killed in accidents. Recently a kid on a scooter in Westfield was involved in a collision with a truck. We want to cut down on those kinds of incidents where kids are either riding unsafely and it results in them being injured or just making them aware of what they have to be aware of,” Pomeroy said.

Officer Michael Vezzola, a 31-year member of the police force who passed away in 2009 first launched the event in the 1990s.

“This is an event that has been going on for a long time. I’ve been on the job for 20 years and it was going on long before I got here,” Pomeroy said. “Even after he passed away several years ago, we’ve carried on the tradition. It was something he was very passionate about and kept it going.”

Children are invited to bring their bikes to learn the ins and outs of roadway safety and proper equipment. Helmets will be available through a donation from the Kiwanis Club of West Springfield and Agawam and some bike repairs may be possible.

“We ask that everybody bring a helmet, but if people have old helmets or they’re not in good shape, we will have helmets that we’ll provide free of charge,” Pomeroy said. “Plus we’ll have people on hand to properly fit helmets for kids. One of the biggest problems is kids will wear helmets, but they’re not fitted properly and they can fall off when kids crash.

“Colorado Bike Shop will be on hand to do safety checkups and make sure bikes are mechanically sound and safe for riding and the will make minor repairs on site,” he added.

Children will also have the opportunity to simulate street riding under the supervision of members of the Police Department.

“The course is set up to simulate streets, so there will be stop signs, lights, a rotary, and areas simulating where side streets come in to illustrate to kids what they’re supposed to do and where they’re supposed to ride,” Pomeroy said.

In addition to the bike safety aspects of the event, police will offer fingerprint identification kits and the department’s K-9 officers will perform a demonstration. The Police and Fire departments will also conduct its “Battle of the Badges” blood drive.

The Park and Recreation Department will also be on hand and children can enjoy a bounce house and facepainting.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/1894289664173523 or call 263-3390.

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