AYER — With the nicer weather coming, kids will be riding their bicycles all over town — and nothing is more important than their safety.
To ensure the children are safe, the Police Department and public schools will join forces to promote bicycle safety during the first week of June.
Shari Matthews, a health teacher at Page Hilltop School, will spend the week teaching students the importance of wearing helmets to prevent head and brain injuries.
Members of the Police Department will conduct safety classes for approximately 600 kids at the school June 4. The classes will include teaching students the rules of the road as they pertain to bicyclists and discussing the proper equipment to be worn and used on bikes.
The department will also provide demonstrations of bicycle safety and have at least two of the department’s mountain bikes on display.
“We’ll talk to the kids about riding on the right side of the road,” said Sgt. John MacDonald. “They’re supposed to adhere to the traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and staying with the flow of traffic — meaning they have to stop for red lights. I’d even encourage them to walk their bikes across crosswalks instead of riding them.”
Topping off the week-long safety program is a “Bike Rodeo” on June 7 at Page Hilltop.
Events at the rodeo include bike registration, bicycle safety inspection and an obstacle course with several different stations.
“We do register bicycles,” said MacDonald. “In the event a bike is lost or stolen we can use the registration to return it to its owner.”
The obstacle course will include a driveway ride-out, where the kids are taught to look left, right and left again before riding their bikes out of the driveway; a slow race in which the kids will have to ride their bikes for 100 feet at a slow pace without putting their foot down and keeping balance; the tight turn station, where children will have to make U-turns in small rectangular shaped boxes; the newspaper boy throw in which the children will take 10 newspapers and have to hit targets as they throw them onto their customers’ property and the solemn bike race.
“The purpose of this event is to teach (the kids) the skills they need to properly and safely ride their bicycles,” MacDonald said. “All the kids participating must wear a helmet. Helmets are the law.”
Don’t worry if you don’t have a helmet.
The Police Department will be giving away 100 decorated helmets they received in a grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety.
“We have mostly sizes for toddlers and adolescents,” said MacDonald. “Some have flames, which is something a little different. We will try and find (a helmet) that fits them and show them how to wear it.”
Since there are only 100 helmets, MacDonald said the department will be giving them out on a first-come, first-served basis.
The rodeo runs from 9 a.m. to noon with a bike-decorating contest at 11.
“There will be a panel of judges,” said MacDonald. “Chief (William) Murray is one of them. The others will be staff members from the school.”
MacDonald encourages the children to arrive at the rodeo with their bikes decorated for the contest. Each child will receive a ribbon for their participation.
In case of rain, the rodeo will be rescheduled for June 14 from 9 a.m. to noon.
For information call MacDonald at (978) 772-8200, ext. 570, or Matthews at (978) 772-8600, ext. 424.