Verona police 'Bike Derby' helps young riders get ready to cycle this summer
Verona Police Department's annual Bike Derby helped to prepare around 60 children to cycle this summer.
Young riders and their families packed the 700 block of East Railroad Avenue by the police station June 9.
"It's a great turnout, beautiful weather," council President Sandy Drabicki-Bell said. "There's a lot of donations here."
The Verona Giant Eagle provided food. Borough firefighters and Lower Valley EMS brought their vehicles for visitors to explore. A. Martini & Co. and other borough businesses contributed to the event. The borough also raffled off two bikes.
Bike mechanics from Dirty Harry's in Verona did free safety inspections on all bikes, replaced some parts and provided children with new helmets.
"We came down here today to help out all the kids, go through their bikes and make sure everything was riding safe and smoothly," mechanic Derrick Lumbomski said. "It's recommended that every spring time, you bring your bike into a local bike shop and try to get a tune up. After your bike's been sitting all winter, it's good to go through and make sure everything's lubed and riding smoothly. Before every time you ride your bike, you should really check your brakes and your tires. They're the most important components."
Makai Pleasant, 12, of Oakmont got his bike checked and rode through an obstacle course.
"It's fun to ride around everything," he said. His mother, Renee Pleasant, said this was their fourth year at the derby.
"We love to get the bike checked," Pleasant said. "It's really helpful for me. I don't want to send him out with faulty equipment."
The event was organized by Sgt. Jerry Frankos, who started working for the borough police force in 2000 as a bike patrolman. He's been in charge of the derby the past 18 years.
He said it is important for cyclists to wear a helmet and obey traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs and signal before turning, and for motorists to share the road.
"I see a lot of people on bicycles not get respected on the roadway," Frankos said. "Bikes have the right-of-way just like pedestrians. A lot of people driving don't realize that."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 840 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. A majority of those crashes occurred between 6-9 p.m.
NHTSA officials said most accidents can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other.
More information about bike safety, including how to select the proper helmet, is available via the NHTSA's website at bit.ly/2D1fIlO.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.