Students put on helmets and lined up, straddling bikes at the start of the course. One-by-one they took turns maneuvering through it. First they had to weave through a row of cones. At turns and stops through the course they tried to use the appropriate hand signals. Some students tumbled, some needed assistance to ride steady and others cruised through it.
No matter how fast or slow it takes them, they each eventually arrived at the final stretch. There, students stared down a path lined on each side by a row of cones that ended with a stop sign.
“Don’t run the stop sign or I’m going to have to write you a ticket,” Kenai Police Officer Alex Prins said to first-grader Kyler Pearson as he got ready to take off.
Pearson stopped in time and turned around to see Prins give him a thumbs-up.
Pearson was just one of many first- and second-graders at Mountain View Elementary School in Kenai to complete the course at the annual Bike Rodeo event on Friday.
First-grader Robert Hayes was one of the first students to try the course.
“This is not hard, it’s easy!” he said to the kids waiting in line when he finished his ride.
But some students were less certain about the course. For Arianna Hensley, it was her first time riding her bike without her mom.
“I’m really nervous,” she said, but with help she made it through the course.
Prins said the course is set up so it’s not difficult, but some kids haven’t learned how to ride bikes very well yet.
For the more experienced riders, he encouraged them to use hand signals when turning and stopping.
Some kids didn’t bring bikes to the event, but other students shared their rides.
“The kids always have a good time,” Prins said.
Prins came to the school on Thursday to talk to students about bike safety — wearing a helmet, turning and stopping hand signals, checking bike features and riding plans.
He said Kenai law requires kids under the age of 16 to wear helmets and students were only allowed to ride the course if they wore one.
Jane Fellman with the Safe Kids Kenai Peninsula Coalition through the Central Peninsula Hospital sold $5 helmets at the rodeo, as she has for years.
“We want to see kids with their helmets on,” she said.
She said Safe Kids will be selling $5 helmets through the summer. To get a helmet, call Safe Kids at 714-4539.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org