FORT DRUM, N.Y. (July 15, 2022) -- Fort Drum children practiced their left turns, right turns, braking and stops on an obstacle course July 15 outside Magrath Sports Complex during the annual Bike Rodeo.
The Fort Drum Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff hosted the event to reinforce bicycle safety and help children practice their skills.
“The Bike Rodeo is an annual FMWR event that teaches children proper bicycle safety techniques that they can use when riding,” said Michelle Winter, who handed out cold water and treats to the kids.
She said that bicycle riding is a fun summer activity for many family members on post, so it was a good time to host a clinic where they can get hands-on experience.
“We want to make sure that kids are safe when riding their bikes, so we start by checking their helmets and making sure it fits properly,” Winter said. “Then they go through the course where there are stations that teach different biking techniques.”
The event builds confidence in children that they can safely navigate the course and each participant received a certificate of completion at the end.
“Safety is a subject that can be a little boring for kids, so we wanted this to be a fun, hands-on activity where they don’t even realize that they are learning,” Winter said. “So when they go home and ride with their family, the kids are doing things they learned here. It’s a big life skill for our young community members that they have forever.”
Members of the Fort Drum Bike Patrol tested out the obstacle course and were present to talk bike safety with children. When patrolling the neighborhoods, Pfc. Shane Sweeney said that they make sure that bicyclists are wearing helmets and other protective gear.
“We also want to make sure that they are stopping at stop signs, watching traffic at intersections and other basic rules,” he said. “The Bike Rodeo is great because it teaches kids how to ride properly, but it’s also a big community event where they might even be able to meet new friends.”
Pvt. David Sanchez said that before the Bike Patrol got on the road this summer, they saw kids who were not wearing protective gear. One of their priorities was to reinforce safety standards.
“We’ve seen that number decrease drastically this month and throughout the month of June,” he said. “So we can tell we’ve been helping out in the communities.”
Sweeney said it is important when children are riding that they pay attention to what is in front of them, whether it is another cyclist, a pedestrian or an obstacle on the ground.
“That’s why on this obstacle course there are a lot of turns and cones here, to teach kids to look up and not focus on the pedals or tires,” he said.
Representatives from the Fort Drum Family Advocacy Program also attended the Bike Rodeo to help promote safety on the installation, which is also the focus of the 101 Days of Summer campaign.
“The Bike Rodeo is all about safety and so is the 101 Days of Summer,” said Tom Wojcikowski, FAP educator. “We have a lot of special events going on with a focus on safety.”
The FAP staff will host a Summer Safety Luau from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. July 26 at the Enrichment Center, Bldg. 10262 on 4th Armored Division Drive. There will be safety activities for community members of all ages, car seat checks, games, crafts and music. For more information, call (315) 772-5914.
In addition, the annual National Night Out is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Adirondack Creek Community Center. Community members are invited to meet with local law enforcement and fire personnel and talk about neighborhood safety. There will be free food, music, bounce houses, face painting and more. For more information, visit www.fortdrummch.com.