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Kids Get Safety Lesson for Bike Rides

Westlake police hand out free helmets

School's out, and that means kids will be hitting the road on their bicycles.

Several children, and their parents, got reminders on biking safely at the annual Westlake Police Bicycle Rodeo at this past weekend.

Children got free helmets, and rode around a course in the school parking lot with auxiliary police officers.

"We're hoping the course helps them sharpen their riding skills," said Lt. Ken Delfing.

Children need to learn speed control and how to stop.

"Kids usually fall for two reasons," he said. "They're either going too fast, or they're going at a slow speed but don't know how to control their bike."

A common mistake children make, Lt. Delfing said, is trying to stop the bike by taking their feet off the pedals and using their feet as brakes on the ground. 

"The problem is, the bike is still moving forward, the pedals hit them in the legs, they lose their balance and fall," he said.

That's where learning how to control the bike comes in, he added.

Helmets are essential for both kids and adults, Lt. Delfing said. Even experienced riders can crash.

"I'm a bike patrol officer, and I often ride my bike to work," he said. "One time, I hit a rut in a sidewalk and went head-over-handlebars, with the bike landing on top of me. If I hadn't have been wearing a helmet, I could have been pretty badly hurt."

Parents are the top influencer in children wearing helmets, Lt. Delfing said. They have to set the example by wearing helmets themselves when bicycling, and enforcing a strict always-wear-helmets policy with their children.

"You wouldn't let your kid play baseball or football without a helmet," he said.

Prizes were also given out, including one of the many found bikes turned over to Westlake police each year.

Ryan Arcuri, 9, was the winner of the bike.

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