by David Rosenfeld, The Beach Reporter
For students at Alta Vista Elementary School, learning about bike safety actually looked pretty fun.
Students in grades 3rd, 4th and 5th brought their bikes to school last Friday to take part in the Youth Bike Education Program organized by the Beach Cities Cycling Club.
Members of the Redondo Beach Police and Fire Departments came out to participate in the event and spend time with the students.
“We're here to show support from the police and fire department,” said Officer Andrew Lewis. “Part of the reason we decided to do this is because the month of May was bike safety month. We thought it was a great idea to plan a bicycle training day for kids at this time.”
The event, planned months ago, was especially important given the tragic events last month when 13-year-old Ciara Smith was killed by a bus on Pacific Coast Highway while riding her bike.
“None of us ever want to go to a scene again that we saw at the beginning of the month with the girl and the bus,” Lewis said. “It was just really sad.”
On Friday, Firefighter Issac Yang joined volunteers in directing students around a mock traffic course on the school playground.
“This is a stop sign,” Yang explained to the kids. “When you are here you always want to check both ways.”
As part of the event sponsored by the West Basin Municipal Water District and Beach Cities Health District, the club gave away 50 helmets and more than 600 books on biking safety. Assistant Principal Nancy Ruvalcaba said many kids realized their helmets did not fit properly.
“One thing our kiddos have learned is the helmet check,” Ruvalcaba said. “A lot of them brought in adult helmets. Making sure they fit and knowing how to adjust it is very important.”
Jim Hannon, founder of the Beach Cities Cycling Club, said the group has performed 11 bike safety events at grade schools and middle schools throughout the area, reaching more than 2,000 students this year.
Along with these types of educational events, the group advocates for more bike lanes and greater awareness of bike safety issues.
“It's unfortunate something tragic has to happen in the community before people often see the need for this sort of thing,” Hannon said.
The benefits to riding a bike are numerous, which makes it all the more important that kids can ride their bikes safely, Hannon said.
“Kids are less rambunctious when they ride bicycles and get physical exercise,” Hannon said. “It's amazing the benefits kids get that you probably wouldn't think about unless you were looking for that type of data.”
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