On Saturday, May 19, the First Baptist Church of Casselberry held their first, of what will surely be many, bike rodeos. Pastor Travis contacted the Florida Bicycle Association a few weeks prior and asked if we could give a presentation on bicycle safety, to which we gladly obliged.
Christina Willis-Ott and I showed up around 8am to get an idea of how the event was going to be set up and to prepare our session. The parking lot was sectioned off into eight stations for the kids to visit. There was a safety check station, snail race, balance, turning, weaving, and several others.
Inside the church, they had cleared the rows of pews and set up an Awana pinewood derby track. Before the bike rodeo started, we got to watch the kids compete; that was a blast! The kids made some fantastic vehicles, including a spider-man car, a ladybug car, and a miniature planet earth! Pastor Travis recruited Christina and I to be the judges for best car design, a tough job by any measure.
After the pinewood derby was over, we kicked off the bike rodeo with our safety session. We used their Sunday school classroom, which provided a nice intimate setting so we could interact with the kids.
We didn’t want to take a lot of time so we developed a short session geared toward neighborhood riding that only took up 15 minutes. The class was based on Cycling Savvy principles, focusing on visibility, predictability, and conflict awareness. This gave the kids a good base to start with that would help with our next exercise.
For our exercise, we took them through a hypothetical scenario in a neighborhood that we drew on a whiteboard. It included door zones, shoulder checks, hand signals, blind spots, and not riding next to the curb. We broke the exercise up into small segments: leaving the driveway, getting around a parked car, turning left at a stop sign, and pulling into their friend’s house on the next street. At each step, we let the kids identify potential conflicts and devise solutions to them. They nailed them with very little assistance from us! The adults also learned a lot in the class.
After such a great start, Christina and I went outside to help with the other stations. We helped them get ready for the on-bike stations by showing them how to properly fit their helmets, tightening up their brakes, and filling up their tires. Little kids in bike helmets are adorable!
Once the kids finished all the stations, they were allowed to slide on the water slide. Once we finished getting all of kids through the stations, I followed suit and took my turn on the water slide. Every event in Florida heat should have a water slide involved!
What an incredibly rewarding day! It’s great to see the enthusiasm that kids bring to bicycling. The kids loved the event and we hopefully planted the seed for some future savvy cyclists.