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Bike rodeo is party for two-wheel riders
Community comes together to promote bike safety
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

May 07. 2014 9:56AM
Kids in Valley Springs will be a bit safer on two wheels this summer, thanks to the cooperative efforts of three community organizations.

And a portion of that cooperative effort came to fruition Saturday at the community’s first-ever bike rodeo.

Last year, the City of Valley Springs, in cooperation with the Brandon Valley School District and Valley Springs Elementary PTA, received $11,000 in grant funding from the federally-funded Safe Routes to School program. It’s the first phase of two planned phases that is designed to create a safer path to school for city kids who walk or ride their bikes in Valley Springs. Sidewalks, signage and events, like Saturday’s bike rodeo, are part of the bigger picture safety plan. A chunk of the $11,000 was used to fund a bike rodeo Saturday, drawing 69 school-aged kids and a variety of younger siblings to the event.

“I think it’s great, great for the community, the kids and the families,” said Tanya Palmer, principal at Valley Springs Elementary, as she looked at the long lines of various ages of kids equipped with bikes in all sorts of sizes and colors. “I think it’s great, not only for their safety but for the social aspect and just being outdoors.”

Saturday morning’s sunny skies, spring-like temperatures and reasonable South Dakota breeze proved to be the perfect backdrop for kids to undergo a quick review of bike safety measures and a bike inspection by a true bike pro.

Chris Parsley, the service manager at Spoke-n-Sport, was onsite to inspect bikes from every kid who had the patience to wait it out. It was one of two bike rodeos the bicycle-centric business was helping out at that day. Canton was the other, he said.

“I’ve lost track,” Parsley said of the number of bikes he’d checked out over the first hour of the event as he spun a tire to test out the brakes on a Barbie doll pink bike.
Parsley, who perched every two-wheeler brought before him on his mobile bike rack, said his purpose Saturday was “to make sure the bikes are safe to ride, that the tires are filled up, brakes are working, to see that nothing fails so they can ride safe,” he said.

City Commissioner Tami Jansma, who spearheaded the Safe Routes to School grant, was stationed at the snack table, where kids grabbed energy bars and other goodies that were free for the taking.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “It’s nice to see that all of the hard work paid off, and that everybody’s really supportive of it.”

Alyssa Erickson brought her younger brother, Tyler, 9, and his bike the to rodeo.
“He wanted to come,” she said. “And I think this neat because when I was in elementary school, we didn’t have this.”

Tyler said he felt it was important to take in Saturday’s bike rodeo for one simple reason: “I like to ride my bike all over town.”

Jennifer Kranz, a member of the one of the sponsoring groups, the PTA, was stationed on a corner of the obstacle course, one of a variety of stations the kids were encouraged to visit. She smiled as she stood on the sidelines watching her daughter, Monica, 5, maneuver an oversized water bottle while modeling her new pink kitty bike helmet complete with a pair of pink ears.

“She did have a helmet,” Jennifer said, “but it’s just getting worn.”

Helmets 4 Kids, the local organization promoting bicycle safety, was on hand to outfit every kid with a helmet or make sure helmets were properly fitted.
Jansma said she hopes the kids take Saturday’s bike safety messages to heart, and was glad to see the kids’ bikes get a tune-up before summer’s arrival.

“This is a nice kick-off to summer, so hopefully, this encourages them to keep riding,” she said.

As Principal Palmer watched the Helmets 4 Kids volunteers fit youngsters for their helmets, a smile spread across her face and an idea came to mind: “Maybe we should require them to wear them on the playground, too!”

Deputy Tyrone Albers quizzes Nathan Johnson, 8, on his knowledge of signals to use while riding his bike. Deputy Albers with the Minnehaha County Sheriff's Department, was just one of many agencies on hand at Saturday's bike rodeo in Valley Springs. For more photos, check out the photo gallery. Photo by Jill Meier

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