Updated 06/07/2012 06:26 PM
Bike "rodeo" teaches kids lessons of safety
Seven hundred Americans die from bike related injuries each year. As YNN's Matt Hunter found out, Warren County has a decades old program in place to make sure local children don't become a part of that statistic.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – On a nice spring day, you're bound to struggle at finding a space in the bike rack at Jackson Heights Elementary School.
Because the Glens Falls district doesn't bus students, fourth graders are permitted to pedal their way to school each day. Before they're given that privilege, the students must undergo an annual rite of passage: Completing the school's bike rodeo. It’s an event that comes with the motto "safety first."
"The goal of the bike rodeo is to basically teach youth the rules of the road and bike safety," said Martina Noone, a community educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension and 4H.
The rodeo starts with a brief lesson from community educators and a member of the local police department.
Before receiving a crash course on the rules of the road, students learn how to check their bike's air pressure, breaks and chain and most importantly, how to properly fasten their helmets.
"You've got to check, make sure there's no room, shake your head and if it falls off, you need to tighten it," demonstrated Emily Ruggiero, a third grade student.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, children ages 15 and younger account for nearly 60 percent of all U.S. bike related injuries.
Already this year, a Glens Falls Middle School student sustained minor injuries when he was hit by a car.
Despite their age, the message doesn't appear lost on the students.
"If you ride without a helmet you could get hurt, possibly die," Ruggiero said.
"I've fallen but I had my helmet on so,” third grader Aliza Williams said.
Because doing is always more fun than watching and listening, the class was invited to test their new knowledge on a course in front of the school. While weather cut the rodeo short and only a few students were able to ride, it appears they're finally ready to safely hit the road.