Bike rodeo rides again

Safety can be fun. Snoqualmie' police officers want to reinforce that lesson Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Tanner Jeans Memorial Bicycle Safety Rodeo.

"It's always a lot of fun," said Snoqualmie Police Officer Paul Graham. Not only do officers get to hang out with area youths, but the children get to safely race around an obstacle course to hone their cycling skills. Parents, too, have fun as they get an afternoon in a festive environment, Graham said.

This is the third year for the safety rodeo. The Snoqualmie Police Department started the first safety rodeo in 2004 as a response to the death of 7-year-old Tanner Jeans, who died after being struck by a truck while riding his bicycle on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Last year, the nonprofit Tanner Jeans Memorial Foundation joined the department in producing the safety event. It's one of several local child-safety programs the foundation sponsors.

Laurie Gibbs, foundation president, said the rodeo is a great way to promote safety in a fun-filled way.

In addition to helmet inspections - with free helmets for those without a working helmet - and the bicycle obstacle course, there will be all kinds of other fun: five inflatable bouncing rides, free hotdogs and beverages, face painting, a balloon-sculpting clown and more.

One of the new attractions will be a mountain bike skills demonstration by Snoqualmie residents Justin Rose and Dan Saimo. The two hope to convince the city of Snoqualmie to build a mountain bike skills park with obstacles like those they'll be using at the rodeo - small jumps, teeter-totters and ladders.

"Kids are gonna ride bikes," Rose said. "We want to start to show how to ride different technical terrain without having to go out in the woods for the experience."

Gaining experience is much of what the police department's skills course is about, Graham said.

Cones are set up on marked courses to simulate different street situations. The biggest danger Graham said he and other officers see is children not obeying the rules of the road and engaging in risky behaviors while on bicycles, motorized foot scooters and other wheeled vehicles.

This summer, the Snoqualmie City Council passed a new ordinance restricting the use of motorized foot scooters. The bike rodeo will give officers a chance to educate children and their parents on the new rules and how the officers will enforce them, Graham said.

Helmets are required for both bicycles and motorized foot scooters. All the requirements that apply to bicycles regarding operation - obeying traffic signs, signaling turns, wearing lights and reflectors at night, etc., apply to scooters, too. The only difference is scooters are barred from bicycle trails, sidewalks and certain other areas bikes are allowed.

"It's fun for us," Graham said. "We get to hang out with the kids and help them build skills that are very important."

Last year, many youths lined up to try the obstacle course multiple times, competing to get the best time possible, Graham said.

For the past two years, the rodeo was held at Community Park, but this year it will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cascade View Elementary School, 34816 S.E. Ridge St., Snoqualmie. The event is free but donations will be accepted to help support future events.

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