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The City Journals

Silver Mesa Students Learn Bike Safety

Nov 12, 2015 12:34PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

Sandy - Hundreds of bicyclists and scooter-riders filled Silver Mesa Elementary’s playground Sept. 11, awaiting their turn to complete a bike safety course set up by Sandy City Police. 

 First, however, they listened to Officer Shay Ballard, who instructed them on how to adjust their helmet to fit and gave them directions for a bike check.  For younger grades, he reviewed hand signals for turning and stopping.

 “We see that sometimes drivers don’t see bikers, so we want these students to look and listen and be more attentive when they’re riding,” Ballard said.  “I want them to know how to check their bikes to make sure they’re fully equipped and ready.  This way, they can have fun — that’s why we have bikes.”

 With the helmet, Ballard demonstrated to make sure there was room under the rider’s chin for the neck strap and how it should be placed on each side of the rider’s ears.  He also suggested that there be two fingertips between the rider’s eyebrows and helmet.

 About 30 parent volunteers and employees from Cottonwood Cyclery checked helmets and bikes before the riders took to the course. For students who wanted to ride the course but didn’t have a bike or scooters, other students loaned their bikes and scooters and volunteers adjusted them to be safe and fit the rider.

 Fifth grader Aryrlie Smith said that the course was fun, but the figure eight was challenging.

 “It was hard because I’m used to big roads, not a narrow course with sharp turns,” she said.

 It was her first time she has heard of the “A, B, C’s” of a bike check.  Ballard told students to first, check that the Air in the tires is pumped up.  Then, test the Brakes.  He said with hand brakes, there should barely be room for a finger when squeezed.  Finally, he told students to check the Chain to make sure it’s greased and working properly.

 Fifth grader Stella Robins said she knew that, but it’s the first time she had heard it as the “ABC rule.”   She said she rides to her friend’s house or to 7-11 and prefers biking to watching TV.

 “It’s more active and fun,” she said, adding that she liked the circular part of the course.

 So did classmate Jonathan Talbot. 

 “The squiggly part was my favorite since it’s fun,” he said. 

 Jonathan has ridden a bike for about three years and usually rides with friends to school, in his neighborhood or to church.

 Fifth-grade teacher Mary Ann Deem, who has taught for 23 years, said bike riding continues to be popular with students.

 “I see kids on bikes all the time,” she said.  “We want them to be safe and learn the safety rules.  Often I see kids on scooters without helmets.  Helmets are so important: they need to ride with them.  This is a great opportunity for student not only to learn safety, but to get to know our police officers who serve and protect us.”

 Deem said that this is the first time in more than five years the school has held a bike rodeo.

 Parent-Teacher Association bike rodeo co-chair Erica van Dijk, who teamed up with her husband Stephen, and PTA president Stephanie Persglove, said they wanted to make sure students’ bike-riding skills were “up to par.”

 “We’ve seen a lot of younger kids having troubles stopping or not looking both ways and struggling to ride alongside cars,” she said.  “The littler kids, under 10, should bike on the sidewalks.  But we wanted to give this chance for all the students to focus on safety and skills.”