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Evans honored for effort to promote bicycle safety

MONESSEN - Tony Evans said he's been fixing bicycles since he was a kid.

Now a 36-year-old man, Evans was honored because of his interest in bike maintenance.

Evans recently received the Governor's Highway Safety Award, based on years of service at area bicycle rodeos.

The bike rodeos, conducted annually in Monessen and Donora, feature safety tips and free equipment for children. The events are co-sponsored by West Penn AAA, the Washington Regional Highway Safety Program, Mon Valley EMS and the Monessen and Donora police departments.

Evans, who owns and operates Evans Graphics of Monessen, repairs and inspects bikes at the rodeo events.

"He has a nice set-up at the rodeos," said Colleen Lantz, a member of the Washington highway safety organization. She nominated Evans for the award, under the Citizens Division.

"He has really made the rodeos a big success," she said.

"Most of these kids' bikes are in poor condition and he works hard on them," said Terri Rae Anthony of West Penn AAA. "He works on them free of charge and puts any parts that are needed."

"These kids could be putting their lives in jeopardy by riding around on unsafe bikes," Lantz noted. "He very well could be saving the lives of some children by repairing and inspecting those bikes for free."

Lantz said she works with people across the commonwealth, and said the volunteer services provided by Evans are uncommon.

"This is a very, very nice honor for a man who is very deserving," Lantz said.

Monessen Chief of Police Mark Gibson praised Evans, and said he is a valuable volunteer, of which city residents should be proud.

"If he is making our children safer by working on their bikes, then he is doing Monessen a great service," Gibson said.

"A lot of parents probably don't even know it, but they owe Tony a great big pat on the back."

Donora Police Superintendent Jim Brice, who has long supported the rodeos, is thankful for Evans' efforts.

"There are a lot of kids who don't think about making sure their bikes are safe," Brice said. "I'm glad that he takes the time he does. People don't realize what can happen if a child is on an unsafe bike."

Evans appeared to be somewhat embarrassed by the attention he received.

"When I was a kid, my parents taught us to make do with what we had," Evans said. "We learned how to fix and build bikes at a young age.

"I fixed bikes for friends and neighbors for a long, long time. We used to have piles of bike parts."

Evans laughingly said it is not uncommon for children to flag him down during summer months.

"I'll be driving down the street and kids I don't even know will wave me over and ask me to fix something on their bike," he said. "I probably patch between 50 and 75 tires per year.

"I keep a bike repair kit in my Jeep all the time just for that reason."

Evans, who also is active with the Monessen Volunteer Fire Department, doesn't mind incurring costs related to his volunteer efforts.

"It's just something kids need and, really, I'm glad to provide that service to them."

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