Chattanooga-Cleveland, Tenn., bicycle rodeo boosts school safety

Chattanooga-Cleveland, Tenn., bicycle rodeo boosts school safety

May 12th, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

Jasmine and Jaiden Goodine try out free helmets Friday at Blythe Bower Elementary as part of Cleveland's Safe Routes to School bike rodeo. They get help from Shane Darwent of Main Street Bike Co-Op in Chattanooga.

Photo by Randall Higgins /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Summer cycling safety ruled Friday at Blythe-Bower Elementary School's parking lot.

The local Safe Routes to School program, with help from Main Street Bicycle Cooperative of Chattanooga and the city of Cleveland, hosted over 100 kids plus families Friday afternoon for a bicycle rodeo.

Free helmets were available, as were food, bicycle safety checks and tips and a slow race where balance was important and the last finisher won.

Safe Routes to School has been good for the community, said parent Jillian Goodine.

Her kids don't bike or walk to school, she said, "because there's too many red lights. They did ride their bicycles to the science fair. And you see more people walking on the new sidewalks -- wheelchairs and stuff."

Safe Routes to School is a federal grant administered by the state to encourage more exercise for kids living close to schools. It includes sidewalks, lights, signs and safety education material.

"We started the school year with a walk to school," said the city's Teresa Torbett, who administers the program. "We are closing the school year with the bike rodeo."

The program continues next year with more safety education, Torbett said.

Cleveland applied for and received a grant for the Blythe-Bower Elementary School community. City school board members recently said they would like to apply for another program, for the Arnold Memorial Elementary School neighborhood and eventually, all neighborhood city schools.