The annual Bike Rodeo and Kids' Health and Safety Fair returned to downtown Riverbank, after taking a year off to fight the COVID pandemic.
“The bike rodeo was a success,” stated Riverbank Police Services Chief Ed Ridenour. “We had numerous children under the age of 12 participate in the mock city course that teaches them bicycle safety and the rules of the road. They were able to ride a bicycle through the mock city with mock buildings, cars, stop signs, and other traffic control devices with guidance of our traffic deputies.”’
Years ago, the event started out as an augmentation to the Farmers Market when it was run by the Chamber of Commerce, then becoming part of the Concerts in the Park.
Now, it's a stand-alone event, still held on the nearby streets and under the trees at the Riverbank Community Center Park. This year's edition was held on Wednesday, July 14.
This year, in addition to the usual bicycle safety obstacle course, events were added to attract, and offered only to teenagers, 13-18.
“The wheelie and trick contest was also a huge success,” added Ridenour. “In total, we had about 10 kids 13 years old and over enter into the contest with several others cheering them on. I was amazed by the skills these kids have, they are truly talented in their riding abilities.”
They participated in trick riding events and 'wheelie' contests, testing their strength, agility and accuracy. The three different events were the swerve, combo, and wheelie. One contest saw bikers ride down the street, come back and pull that wheelie, seeing how close to the end pylon they could come. Another gauged how long, and for what distance, they could hold their wheelie. The combo contest had participants riding tricks on the bike while moving into different standing and seated positions on and around the bike.
“The overall winner of the wheelie and trick contest won a Playstation 4 game console that was donated,” said Ridenour. “There were several other raffles prizes for both age groups.”
The event was sponsored by the City of Riverbank, Central Valley Community Resources, and Riverbank Police Services, along with other local businesses and civic organizations.
Regular features each year include discounted registration of resident's bicycles, issuing and training in use of safety gear such as helmets, and, of course, that 12-and-under obstacle course ride. Participants there are shown typical traffic and pedestrian hazards to observe and react to.
Toward the end of the evening, 18 lucky cyclists went home with new rides, donated by local businesses and organizations.
“The whole event was great, in the end we issued over 33 bicycle registrations free of charge, gave away and fitted almost 70 bicycle helmets, raffled off 18 donated bikes, and provided numerous bicycle safety inspections through the generous donation of Fun Sport Bikes,” noted Ridenour.
In addition to the city, participants and vendors included: Family Support Network Family Resource Center, Oakdale; Girl Scouts Troop 4105; Fun Sports Bikes; Bikers Against Child Abuse; Parent Resource Center; Golden Valley Health Centers; Riverbank Federated Women’s Club; and Riverbank Raiz Promotores (Oak Valley Hospital District).
Among those who donated the bicycles were Lana Clayton at Farmers Insurance; Cecilia Rosales; Self-Help Federal Credit Union; Royal Neighbors of Riverbank; Oakdale Bike Shop; Riverbank Police Services; F &M Bank; Central Valley Community Resources; New Life Community Church; and Fun Sports Bikes.
“We will most definitely have the event next year,” expressed Ridenour. “It was great to see the smiles on the faces of the kids young and old. I enjoyed interacting with all the kids and feel we have begun to strengthen our relationship with the group. Riverbank Police Services is committed to community engagement and involvement. We have to work together to keep our community safe.”
Virginia Still contributed to this article.