More than 40 George Seitz Elementary School students on U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll practiced road safety skills during the annual Bike Rodeo, Feb. 24, 2023. The workshop is a collaborative learning event coordinated by the school and personnel from the island's emergency services and Department of the Army Civilian Police.
By the time they experience a bike rodeo, many island students have basic proficiency in biking or traveling by scooter. The reinforcement of basic skills helps them continue to grow in confidence and a more nuanced understanding of how to action road safety skills.
“We want to make sure everyone is comfortable on the road and feels safe riding their bicycles throughout the community,” said Lt. Shawn Delaney.
The event began with a classroom briefing for students to review safety concepts and transit tips. After their discussion, students demonstrated their skills on an outdoor learning course set up in the nearby residential neighborhood.
Classroom workshop facilitator Sgt. Kalvinjohn Bayona first gauged the know-how of a kindergarten class with simple questions.
“When you come to a stop sign, what does that mean you’re supposed to do,” Bayona asked. “Does it mean I can keep going?”
He encouraged them to expand their situational awareness to include moving hazards.
“Remember, when you come to a stop sign, you’re looking for bikes, cars and golfcarts,” Bayona said. “Once you see that all of those are clear from the road, you can go ahead and proceed and move forward.”
Later, as students scootered and cycled through each skills checkpoint on the outdoor course, volunteers offered helpful reminders and rewards for a job well done.
“Careful—don’t forget to look both ways,” prompted a volunteer at a simulated four-way stop. The student slowed and scanned the road for oncoming vehicles before receiving a sticker and a high-five for good work.
Longtime island resident and Kwajalein High School senior Myles Sylvester volunteered with classmates to assist as a checkpoint guard during the rodeo event. Reflecting on a lifetime of island commuting, he reminded new bikers about the island’s environmental challenges. He stressed that hydration is critical to commuting on Kwajalein.
“It’s hotter on Kwajalein than in other places, and we are biking all the time,” Sylvester said.
Following the rodeo, coordinator and Kwajalein School System counselor Mindi Gerber thanked the more than 20 volunteers from the island’s law enforcement, emergency services, homeschool community and religious services who supported the activity. KSS also offered special thanks to AAFES personnel for donating child-sized bike helmets, protective kneepads and elbow guards to students during the event.