CPOA Bike Rodeo to teach children the rules of the road

Bicycles are both a form of transportation and recreation for many summer guests at Chautauqua Institution, and this summer the Chautauqua Property Owners Association is focused on the safety of both bicyclists and pedestrians on the grounds.

The CPOA will be hosting the first of three bicycle rodeos from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday beginning on the Hultquist Center porch to help families learn the rules of the road while still having fun.

The CPOA collaborated with Institution administration, the Chautauqua Police Department, and the Jamestown Cycle Shop to provide an afternoon of activities to educate children about bicycle safety on the grounds.

“The bike rodeos will enlighten people about the rules and regulations, provide something fun for kids to do, and let families get to know the place, especially if it is their first time here,” said Mary Lou Parlato, member of the CPOA Transportation and Safety committee.

On Sunday, the cycle shop will be set up at portable stations at various locations on the grounds to check the tire pressure of children’s bikes and to make sure the bikes are safe overall. Bells, lights and other accessories will be available for purchase at the stands.

Bike patrolmen from the police department will speak to the families about the grounds’ bicycle rules and regulations.

Parlato said learning the rules from bike patrolmen will help children understand the authority of the patrolmen in yellow shirts.

“We want to cultivate an awareness of the rules that will carry not only to the children, but to their parents and grandparents as well,” she said.

The police department will be available to register bikes of families who recently arrived on the grounds as well.

After all bicycles have been checked, kids will be taken on a bicycle rodeo around the grounds beginning at the Hultquist Center. During the ride, they will have to implement their newly learned rules, dismounting at the proper time and stopping at all the stop signs.

The bike rodeo route will take the kids by Lincoln Park, an area that becomes heavily congested in the afternoon when people are making their way to afternoon lectures and children are heading to Boys’ and Girls’ Club. The bike rodeo will teach children to take Warren Avenue where the road comes to a “Y,” which Parlato said she hopes will alleviate some of the traffic.

Once the bike rodeo ends on Bestor Plaza, participants will receive a goody bag with a list of rules, a flashing rear light, a safety light to go on the air nozzle of the bicycle wheel, a coupon for a scoop of ice cream at Brick Walk Cafe and a glow-in-the-dark bracelet that reads “Bikes are cool, but pedestrians rule.”

Each goody bag will contain a color-coded bicycle map: Roads are highlighted in red, yellow or green, indicating the level of safety of bicycling on each road.

Parlato said this is the first time anyone has focused on generating a map specifically for bicycle safety.

Each week, the bike rodeo will feature a raffle for a $40 gift certificate to the cycle shop, where the winner can buy more embellishments for his or her bike.

The CPOA will assess the success of the event and possibly expand the bike rodeos next season.

The safety of bicyclists and pedestrians is something that the CPOA is especially focused on this season.

Encouraging everyone, not just children under 14, to wear helmets on the grounds is something CPOA President Bill Neches wants to work on this season.

“Parents and grandparents should be setting an example for their children to wear helmets all the time,” he said.

Neches also said he wants to emphasize the importance of making sure children are letting pedestrians know that they are behind them by saying “On your right/left” in addition to ringing their bell.

“We are hoping to focus on pedestrian safety next year,” Parlato said. “But felt we could make an immediate impact with bicycles this year.”