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Bike safety program readies young Hinsdale riders

Lauren Courtney,8 is carefully watched by Alice Waverley during the Bike Rodeo for third through fifth graders Friday September 06, 2013 at Madison School in Hinsdale. | James C. Svehla/For Sun-Times Media
Katherine Meyers,8, recieves directions from Kathryn Williams during a Bike Rodeo for third through fifth graders Friday September 06, 2013 at Madison School in Hinsdale. | James C. Svehla/For Sun-Times Media
Hinsdale officer Michael Coughlin pats Brendan Comboy,10, on his helmet during the Bike Rodeo for third through fifth graders Friday September 06, 2013 at Madison School in Hinsdale. | James C. Svehla/For Sun-Times Media
Line of kids during the Bike Rodeo for third through fifth graders Friday September 06, 2013 at Madison School in Hinsdale. | James C. Svehla/For Sun-Times Media
Ayman Ads (left) drove to the bike rodeo outside Madison School Friday afternoon, but his daughter, Nilly Ads, 8, (right) is "going to ride home for sure,"  having just gotten her bicycle license at the bike safety program. | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media Sept. 6, 2013
After completing a bike safety program at Hinsdale elementary schools, students get a photo “license” they display on their bicycles to allow them to bike to and from school.  | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media Sept. 5, 2013
Charlie Hartley, owner of Hartley's Cycle Shoppe, tightens up a bike's handle bars during the Bike Rodeo for third through fifth graders Friday September 06, 2013 at Madison School in Hinsdale. | James C. Svehla/For Sun-Times Media
Bike Rodeo for third through fifth graders Friday September 06, 2013 at Madison School in Hinsdale. | James C. Svehla/For Sun-Times Media

HINSDALE — Eight-year-old Walter Waverley could not wait to put his license to use after completing the bike safety program at Madison School in Hinsdale Friday. The license hung between the handlebars of his bicycle.

“I’m about to ride it home,” Walter said.

The Bike Rodeo Safety Program is a joint effort of the Hinsdale Police Department, local business owners and parent volunteers. Each day, the team went to a different District 181 school and St. Isaac Jogues School.

The program is for all third-graders, plus fourth- and fifth-graders new to the district. Their incentive to participate is if they successfully complete the program, they get a bike safety rodeo certificate of achievement with their photo on it. They have to have the “license” to be allowed to bicycle to and from school.

“This is a big event for the kids because they want to ride their bikes to school,” said Artemis Anos, a parent volunteer at the bike rodeo outside Oak School, at 950 S. Oak St.

After completing all the steps, which include maneuvering around cones set up outside the school, “the kids know they need to be aware, they can’t just get out of their house and go,” Anos said.

In one part of the course, each child rides their bike in a straight line down a narrow path marked by cones.

“It tests their balance and steering coordination,” said Madison parent Angi Courtney.

Walter said the road test was “pretty easy.” The only part that was a little difficult was where the bicyclists had to make a series of tight U-turns, but he passed, Walter said.

At the bicycle helmet fitting station, Doug Kramer of Kramer State Farm Insurance, told the next child in line, “Look down, look up,”

Many children do not wear their helmets low enough on their forehead to protect their forehead if they fly over the handlebars, Kramer said. Viewed from the side, the helmet should be level, not tilted up.

“Most helmets are difficult for kids to adjust,” Kramer said.

His father, Bob Kramer, was helping Charlie Hartley do a multipoint inspection of each bicycle. Checking the brakes, the lubrication and the air in the tires were on the checklist.

“Most of the bikes are in pretty good shape,” Bob Kramer said.

Hartley stressed the importance of keeping bicycles lubricated.

“Look at it just like your car,” Hartley said. “Without oil in the crank case, the more resistance there is and the more energy you have to spend to pedal.”

“I’m excited to get my bike checked,” Elliott Smith, 8, said outside Oak School.

“My bike was dismantled twice, once to go to Colorado and once to get back, because it wouldn’t fit in the car,” Elliott said. “I need to have the gears checked because last time my Dad messed up the first gear and the chain fell off.”

The children also watched a DVD on bicycle safety before they got their license.

Emily Lawson, a third-grader at Madison School, at Sixth and Madison steets, said it was informative.

She learned, “If you are riding right in back of the car, (the driver) can’t see you,” because a child may be below the driver’s field of vision. “You should stay on the side of the car where they can see you.” Emily said.

Nilly Ads, 8, had her father’s blessing to ride home from the bike rodeo at Madison.

“Oh for sure,” Ayman Ads said. “Why not? She has the license.”

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