Bicycle Rodeo offers safety tips for youth

Amber Aldaco By Amber Aldaco

Aug. 12, 2017 at 9:51 p.m.
Updated Aug. 13, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Senior officer Adam Banda, front, leads Dimitri Gutierrez, 6, and Layton Garrison, 9, through the bicycle safety course set up at John Wesley United Methodist Church.

Senior officer Adam Banda, front, leads Dimitri Gutierrez, 6, and Layton Garrison, 9, through the bicycle safety course set up at John Wesley United Methodist Church.   Nicolas Galindo for The Victoria Advocate

A few weeks ago, 9-year-old Layton Garrison experienced firsthand the freedom of riding a bicycle like a big kid - with no training wheels.

"It was so much fun," Layton said.

While Layton is becoming more skilled as he rides around on his Star Wars-themed bicycle, the future fourth-grader admits he still has much to learn.

"But learning is the best part," he said.

Layton was a participant in Saturday's Bicycle Rodeo, an event hosted by the John Wesley United Methodist Church and conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety and Victoria Police Department.

Kelly Sowell, a church volunteer, helped organized the event. She said she wanted to reach out to the community both spiritually and to promote safety awareness.

"With school starting, it's important to promote bicycle safety," Sowell said. "I am so glad DPS and the (Victoria) police department are here to teach the rules of the road."

The parking lot was turned into a bicycle obstacle course, where children could utilize hand and arm signals, bike control and gain rider confidence as they rode their bikes around sharp corners, orange safety cones, stop signs and a figure eight.

Senior Officer Adam Banda, with the Victoria Police Department, was on-hand at the safety awareness event to demonstrate and talk about bicycle safety.

Banda's advice for parents included learning the rules of the road such as the hand and arm signals during traffic. Bicyclists are allowed to ride their bikes with vehicle traffic, Banda said, as long as they follow traffic rules.

"Treat a bike just like a car - it's no different," Banda said.

Sgt. Ruben San Miguel, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said bicycle safety concerns all counties.

He also advises that riders stay away from distractions such as cellphone and having headphones on while riding. A majority of crashes happen at access points, such as intersections and driveways, he said, adding that cyclists should make sure to always look both ways while riding.

Barbara Strelczyk, Layton's caretaker, said she brought him and his siblings to meet law enforcement officers.

"I wanted them to learn about the laws of bike riding but also show them that law enforcement officers are here to help them," Strelczyk said.

Eight-year-old Gregory Buesing said he learned how to ride a bike when he was 5. Gregory, who has participated in bike rides before, said he rides his bicycle often, adding that he learned the traffic safety symbols and plans to continue to be a conscientious rider.

"I'd like to do full bike marathons when I'm older, so it's good to learn more about bike riding," Gregory said.

His mother, Lori Buesing, agreed.

"It's definitely a great event to teach kids about safety," Buesing said.

An Air Medical helicopter also landed at the event and Victoria Police Department Senior Officer Cody Maresh and K-9 Officer Cirix were featured.


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