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Bike rodeo draws big crowd
Roads safety impressed on youth

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Youth filled the public health parking lot in Rankin Inlet to learn about bike safety and share in a barbecue July 27.

NNSL photo/graphic

RCMP Cpl. Lorne Morrison checks out Zack Weibe's bike at the bike rodeo in Rankin Inlet July 27, 2015. - photo: Noel Kaludjak

The annual bike rodeo is a joint effort between the RCMP and Nunavut Public Health.

Sgt. Lorne Morrison figures about 80 children showed up and were put into in age groups of six and under, seven to 10, and older, as old as 14 and 15.

"A couple of the local business donated bikes and hotdogs for the kids," he said. "The mining company Areva donated 100 bike helmets. These were all given out the kids."

The afternoon event began with a bike safety lecture put on by Public Health.

The children and youth were taught to ride a bike with the right seat height, frame length and the proper equipment needed on a bike, such as lights and reflectors, reflective tape and a horn or bell to alert drivers and anyone else on the road that they're nearby.

Helmets are a big issue. The Public Health presentation demonstrated what happens to a brain with and without a helmet, by using a raw egg to demonstrate.

"They put an egg in the doll's head and dropped it on the ground," said Morrison. "Then you saw the egg broken. Then they put an egg in the doll's head wearing a bike helmet and dropped it on the ground. And the egg didn't break. So that really reinforced to the kids that the egg is your brain and it's really important to wear the helmet."

Morrison says young people should wear helmets but they generally don't.

"That's why we're trying to educate them," said Morrison. "But kids are going to be kids."

Part of it is peer pressure, he says, and part of is they just put the helmet down and don't think about it when they go tearing off on their bikes.

When it comes to bike safety in communities, Morrison says youth are focused on playing and getting from point A to point B.

"They don't really look around. So they bomb right across the street full speed. They'll bomb right through a stop sign without even stopping. We try to educate them that you have to watch out for vehicles, that the vehicles are supposed to stop but the vehicles are bigger than you are and if the two of you hit, you're the one that's going to be injured."

This is also something drivers need to watch for.

"When you see a kid on a bike, just watch out. They're probably not even paying attention."

For the bike rodeo, youth were put through their paces skills-wise.

"We had them do a couple of stations, bike exercises, where they would ride, break, and turn around. We had them do some slaloms. It was very well-received. It's amazing how well some of those kids handle those bikes," said Morrison.

Eight bikes were given away to one boy and one girl in each age group, with two of each in the under-six category.

Community health representative Tuuti Autut, manned the barbecue and she says there were definitely more people in attendance this year than in past years.

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