Tarentum Bicycle Safety Rodeo passes out free helmets, bikes, safety message
Some Tarentum kids were on a roll Saturday.
Youngsters lined up at the Tarentum marina to learn about bike and public safety at the inaugural Tarentum Bicycle Safety Rodeo.
As part of the program, they received free bike helmets and bicycle tune-ups.
The event was sponsored by the borough’s special events committee and police department.
“We want to stress bike safety and remind our young residents that it is Pennsylvania law that children 12 and younger are required to wear a helmet while operating a bicycle,” Tarentum police officer and event coordinator Jeremy Howell said. “We do see a ton of young riders that are not wearing helmets, and this event provides free helmets to those who maybe can’t afford them.
“We hope to see more kids wearing helmets while riding.”
Nicole Barnett, Allegheny County’s Traffic Safety Education Project Department program coordinator, was on hand passing out 100 free helmets of all sizes, provided by the county health department.
“The feedback from the parents is great; they are grateful,” Barnett said. “We are excited to be here. Summertime is when we especially stress bicycle safety. We make sure the helmets fit well — that’s important. Some of the older kids don’t like to wear helmets. But I tell them helmets aren’t fun, but they are important.”
After receiving helmets, youth were invited to navigate a bike safety course.
Five new bicycles — all donated by various Tarentum residents — were raffled off. Participating children submitted a free raffle ticket after completing their bicycle safety helmet fitting and obstacle safety course for a chance to win a bike.
“This is a good thing,” Tarentum Mayor Eric Carter said. “The kids can have a good time riding, learn about safety, make friends. One of my goals as mayor is to have more hands-on community events, and this is one of them.”
Tarentum parent Jennifer Wolfe attended with her four children. Three of them received helmets and bike tune-ups, provided by Gatto Cycles of Tarentum employee Kevin O’Toole.
“This is a nice community event, and all three of my kids needed helmets,” Wolfe said. “I tell my kids they don’t ride unless they have a helmet on.”
Mike Ort, of Harrison’s Natrona neighborhood, happened upon the rodeo by chance with his son Dathan, 9. Dathan left with a helmet.
“It’s cool,” Dathan said. “I’m happy to have a helmet.”
Borough firefighters from Eureka, Highland and Summit Hose companies had fire trucks on display for touring and fire safety information.
Other public safety agencies participating were Allegheny County 911, which brought an emergency response van; Monroeville Fire Safety Trailer VFC #6; a New Kensington Police Department SWAT vehicle; Norfolk Southern (railroad safety information) and the Pennsylvania Fish Commission (river and boating safety.)
“We had fabulous weather ,and we really want to thank Gatto’s for providing the bike tune-ups — every kid leaving here today has a bike that has been checked out,” Howell said.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.