Safety awareness comes first in recent fair

Over 80 children were given free helmets and taught how to safely ride bikes on the street at the Health and Safety Fair held by the California Highway Patrol and Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition at the Sonoma County Fair grounds in Santa Rosa on Saturday.

“When you have a captivated audience who have come to hear about all things safety and healthy, half the battle is won,” said Angie Perez, representative of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. “When they walked through the doors and find a fun safety activity, they are eager to hear what we have to say. We were able to serve these families with important educational information about helmet fitting, bike safety and the benefits of riding.”

Eighty-one bicycle helmets were donated to the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, which were distributed among the children who attended the event for free. The coalition also showed parents and their children how to properly fit and wear a helmet.

“Ultimately it comes down to community, without that community connection the cycling movement I don’t think could get very far,” said Ryan Griffith, assistant manager with Windsor Bicycle Center. “It’s all about a collective effort. Being a part of something like this and a part of the Sonoma county bicycle coalitions efforts benefit everybody. The more people we can get on bikes the better.”

Children were able to bring their bikes for checkups, and adjustment by Griffith. Children who didn’t bring a bike were able to use the bikes brought by the bicycle coalition to ride during the event.

“The best part had to have been when the four children who won the bikes came to us looking for a helmet to go with it.  It was clear, that a bike won means nothing unless there is a helmet to enjoy the ride with,” said Perez.

The “two finger rule” could be heard as volunteers fitted helmets on kids: two fingers with between eye brows and helmet, one finger width between strap and chin and the side straps should meet directly below the ears.

Dozens of emergency vehicles were displayed from the patrol’s new 2015 Ford Police Interceptor to a Dodge Charger Interceptor, and even the local CHP helicopter, which flew and landed during the event.  

The patrol was doing free car seat checkups by appointment only for people at the event.

“The turnout today was great,” said Tina Panza, a representative of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, “that had a lot to do with the partnerships that have been developed between the Bike Coalition, the CHP, and all the other agencies that were involved in this safety fair, including a number of radio stations that promoted the event and offered support.”

Radio LAZER 107.1 raffled off seven bicycles to children at the event.

Sponsors of the event included the CHP, La Mejor 104.1 radio, Radio LAZER 107.1, Eddie Sandoval from State Farm agency, and the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

Since 2008, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition’s Safe Routes to School program has been doing on-bicycle education. Since then they have done over 250 bike-education events, including community bike rodeos like the one Saturday, family bicycling workshops/rides, and in-school bicycle safety/skill classes. The bulk of the  on-bicycle education services are their in-school safety/skill classes, which are usually done with fourth graders. In 2014 the coalition did over 30 in-school on-bicycle classes.

The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition has scheduled its next Community Bicycle Rodeo for May 2 and will be at the Community Center in Rohnert Park.

A bicycle rodeo is an event where children are taught how to properly use a bicycle, and learn how to ride in a mock-up street made up of chalk, and street signs. Volunteers show how to read the signs, obey laws of the road, and how to signal.

“I like that they were doing it,” said Eric Wilde, police officer at Sonoma State University. Wilde was unable to attend the event but is eager about the upcoming bicycle rodeo in Rohnert Park.

Wilde has been working closely with the issue of safety and theft related to bicycles. Trying to keep students safe on the road, and keep them from bike theft.

Police Services offers bicycle registration, engraving of bicycles with California drivers license numbers so if a officer stops a cyclist, can search through the California Department of Motor Vehicles data base to see if the bicycle is stolen or not.

Since beginning of fall 2014, there have been 45 reports on campus of stolen bicycles so far. Spring 2014 had 31 bicycles reported stolen, and fall 2013 has had 37 bicycles stolen.

Wilde also encourages the use of U-locks as a certain way to lock up the bicycle, locking both tires, and frame to a secure location like a bicycle post.

“I am honestly certain that all bicycles reported stolen since August are due to cable locks,” said Wilde.