Attending a bicycle safety rodeo every spring is a part of growing up. I remember navigating traffic cones in the school yard, working hard to impress the
police officers who were instructing us.
We practiced things like mounting and dismounting the bicycle, changing direction and turning in circles, weaving, and stopping quickly.
This childhood tradition lives on here in Burlington every May thanks to the Burlington Mall and the Halton Regional Police. The primary focus here, however, is something we never even considered as kids — properly fitted bicycle helmets. Burlington Mall donates up to 300 CSA-approved helmets to children participating in this event every year.
As a parent, I’ve found that fitting and adjusting bike helmets on kids who don’t like to stand still can be kind of tricky. When I first heard that someone was willing to do this for me — and provide the helmet for free — I was ready to sign up! Halton Police Services and their team of volunteers makes sure that each helmet is fitted properly.
In past years, this event was known for long lineups. But no more! As one volunteer told me, “we got smart.” This year, parents were asked to reserve the correct size helmet for each child, in the week prior to the event, by visiting Guest Services inside Burlington Mall. The result of this voucher system was that, even though we arrived after it started, there was no line!
After being fitted for their helmets, the boys got to meet McGruff the Crime Dog and learned that we all have to work together to “Take a Bite Out of Crime!” If only Elmer the Safety Elephant and Smokey the Bear could have been there too, we could have met the trifecta of kids safety ambassadors.
The next stop was the start line of the bike safety rodeo where kids were reminded of the proper hand signals.
I was interested to learn that they no longer try to have kids remember that to turn right you need to bend your left arm like a capital ‘L’. How much sense does that make to a kid? Now they simply teach kids to “point in the direction you are going to turn.”
Friendly Halton police officers were positioned throughout the course to cheer the kids on, provide direction, and answer questions (not to mention picking up stray safety cones).
At the end of the course, every child received an award certificate and was provided with a complimentary bike safety inspection completed by the mall’s SportChek store.
When Jr Burlington’s bike was “up on the hoist” for service, the technician spent a considerable amount of time adjusting the brakes and checking tire pressure and seat height.
As we exited the event, I was pleased to meet Heidi from the Burlington Cycling Committee. This group of volunteers has the role of assisting and advising City Council in matters pertaining to cycling in the City of Burlington.
Heidi told me about the upcoming Car Free Sunday events on June 9 (Appleby Line) and June 23 (Palladium Way in the Alton Community). A fun new addition this year is a “bicycle train” that will lead people from all over town to the Appleby Line event.
One Bicycle Train will start at City Hall and proceed along the Centennial Bikeway and Lakeshore Road to Appleby Line. Another Bicycle Train will start at the Tansley Woods Community Centre and proceed along Upper Middle Road and through the Orchard community before heading south on Burloak and back west on the Centennial Bikeway to Appleby Line. The “train” will stop at meeting points along the way and will get longer as more riders join in the procession.
Mr Burlington and Family will be joining the Ward 5 Bike Train at Orchard Community Park (12:45). Come join us, all you need is a bike and a helmet!
Our last stop was a visit with Daffy Dill the Clown who made the
boys neat balloon animals. Daffy Dill has supported my efforts on the Mr Burlington Facebook page from the very start so I was quite pleased to meet and thank her.
I’ll be featuring more cycling related adventures in Burlington later this summer. In the meantime, check out this Tourism Burlington blog post for more ideas on getting into gear. Burlington has some phenomenal bike paths… enjoy them with your family this summer and ride safe!