This piece was written by John Rees and Heidi Perry

Last week, we attended the RENA Community Center‘s annual bike rodeo. Held annually, the event ensures that kids attending the RENA community center summer camp have safe bikes to ride and that they know the rules of the road and have the skills they need to ride safely.

The bike rodeo grew out of a conversation between RENA Project Director David Caldwell, then–Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Kevin Hicks of Triangle BikeWorks, Heidi Perov of BikeCarrboro (the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition) and Rainer Dammers of the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel Hill. The rodeo is now run by BikeCarrboro and the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel Hill with the help of many other organizations and volunteers.

The rodeo begins with bike checks—making sure everyone has inflated tires, working brakes, and handlebars that work for their height—and helmet checks to be sure everyone has a correct-fitting helmet. Helmets are obtained through a grant with NC DOT.

Once bikes and helmets and riders are ready, the participants learn how to do the “ABC” bike check and then practice bike handling skills and safety drills. The final skill practiced is balancing at slow speeds by participating in the popular “slow” bike race (the last person to cross the finish line—without putting their foot down along the way—wins).

In the past nine years, we have worked with approximately 200 young riders in the Rogers Road neighborhood. It’s gratifying to see so many kids riding through the safety course and learning how to use bike hand signals.

The bike rodeo finishes with a bike ride through the Phoenix Place neighborhood, led by members of the Orange County Sheriff’s department and the Carrboro Police Department.


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John Rees lives in Chapel Hill. His day job is an enterprise architect for a big IT company. He was, until very recently, a member of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission and former chair. He serves on...