FORT JACKSON, SC -- About 200 children, 15 and younger, die annually in this country from bicycle-related injuries.

Nearly 9,000 more children are hospitalized, while another 344,000 are treated and released from emergency departments, according to the Children's Safety Network National Injury and Violence Prevention Resource Center.

To lessen the incidence and severity of bicycle related injuries among Fort Jackson's youth, the Directorate of Emergency Services and the Child, Youth and School Services, in conjunction with the Columbia Police Department Bike Patrol, hosted a bike rodeo
Saturday to educate children about everything they need to know before going for a ride.
Taking proper care of a bike and knowing the rules of the road were things children like 13-year-old Kariana Rodriguez and her 4-year-old brothers, Elvin and Orlando, learned as they practiced their bicycle safety skills.

The twins had come prepared with training wheels and orange safety flags mounted to their bikes. More importantly, they were wearing safety helmets.

"We don't ride our bikes without a helmet," said Cpl. Lionel Brown, a Fort Jackson police officer. "So we don't want kids to ride without helmets either.

"It's for your protection," Brown said to about two dozen children as they waited to have their bikes inspected by Sgt. Christopher Duncan, NCOIC of Fort Jackson's bike patrol.

Once they got the go-ahead, the children lined up to weave around cones on a bicycle confidence course designed to simulate actual road conditions.

"It was great for the kids to watch other kids ride along the obstacle course and to see that everyone, not just the bike patrol, wears a helmet when they ride," said family member Dani Fitzhugh, who brought her daughter Kathryn, 5, and her son Charles, 7, to the rodeo.

In addition to the bike safety stations, Richland County's Community Action Team and Richland County's D.A.R.E. gave demonstrations. Fort Jackson firefighters were on hand to show children of all ages the post fire engines, including a mini model of a real home that simulates a blaze and fills with smoke.

The children also had the chance to win prizes, including bike helmets and two brand new bikes.