It is time again for New Jersey Bicycle Rodeos! The New Jersey Ambassadors in Motion (NJAIM), an initiative from the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center, have been busy in April and May working with partner organizations to teach kids important bicycle skills. The purpose of bicycle rodeos are to teach the basics of riding bicycles safely. Ambassadors work to ensure that the participants know about basic bicycle maintenance, teach them the proper way to wear helmets, and help guide participants through courses that highlight bicycle skills such as signaling turns.
In April, NJAIM helped out at the Freehold Bicycle Rodeo administered by EZ Ride of Monmouth County and the PTO at the Freehold Learning Center (represented by Chris Naspo). Dozens of kids and their families turned out for a morning of bike safety, education, and fun. One of the organizers from EZ Ride, Lisa Lee, was on hand to give a rousing talk to the kids about safety with the Borough Police Department before everyone moved outside to participate in learning activities.
Also present were the Western Monmouth YMCA and The Freehold Health Department handing out free oranges, bananas, information cards, water guns, and water bottles as part of the on-site Health Fair.
New Jersey Ambassadors in Motion (NJAIM) representatives Kristiana, Chris, Nolan, and Sonia joined EZ Ride to make sure the courses were set up quickly, were run smoothly, were safe and fun. NJAIM also helped register families, and fit kids with free helmets (Thanks Meadowlink!).
It’s questionable whether the kids even noticed the few sprinkles of rain, as everyone was busy learning how to make proper turns, balance their bikes, ride slowly, yield to fellow cyclers and pedestrians, and learn the proper techniques for riding a bike on a paper route. The morning ended with a group ride along the Henry Hudson Trail between Main Street and Dutch Lane, joined by Freehold Mayor Lester A. Preston Jr.
The following week (5/5 and 5/6) the Ambassadors were out again. NJAIM helped Keep Middlesex Moving (KMM) put on the Colonia Bike Challenge out of the Evergreen Rec Center gymnasium in Woodbridge. Volunteers and public safety officials were on hand as kids were fitted with helmets and took part in various safety drills. At the end of the activity, KMM raffled off two brand-new bikes for lucky participants.
The day after, Kirstiana, Sonia, and Chris joined Girl Scout Troop 80273 with Chris Gonda to put on a bicycle rodeo in the lot behind the Milltown public library. This time a bicycle maintenance crew were on hand to get kids riding safely and smoothly. Congratulations are in order to our registrants who learned how to use a bike without training wheels for the first time! Way to go!
BPRC and NJAIM are looking forward to helping out with more Bike Rodeos throughout the summer. Look for NJAIM in the next few weeks at events around New Jersey!
By Chris Lee