Bike Safety Bash aims to prevent a crash; Annual event will sell 250 helmets at low cost

Published 10:52 am Thursday, May 14, 2015

A crowd gathers during the 2014 Bike Safety Bash. -- Photo provided

A crowd gathers during the 2014 Bike Safety Bash. — Photo provided

With summer just around the corner, Austin groups are providing an annual reminder about the importance of bicycle safety.

The Bike Safety Bash returns from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Lions Park Pavilion to help everyone get information on safe biking and to provide a chance to purchase a helmet at a low cost.

“Kids and adults are welcome to come get a safety check on bikes and get fitted for a bike helmet,” Vision 2020 Bike/Walk Committee Co-Chairman Steven Kime said.

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The Bike Walk Trails committee is lead by Steve Kime and Jim Burroughs.

Children can get helmets for $5 and adults for $10, which are donated by Rydjor Bike and sold at cost. Kime said they will have about 250 helmets this year. Last year organizers ran out of helmets and after some additional funding was available, they took down names for those who wanted a helmet. About 230 helmets were given away last year.

“Two-hundred-and-fifty helmets will probably go fast,” Kime said.

Employees from Rydjor Bike will fit people for helmets and do safety checks on bicycles.

Kime said the event has been popular.

He recalled a few years ago getting about 12 inches of snow the day before the event, which forced everyone inside, yet he said people still came.

“They come early,” he said. “They want to be there.”

There will be plenty of education opportunities. The Statewide Health Improvement Project (SHIP), Mower Refreshed, and other groups will have information tables set up. Mayo Clinic Health Systems will also have a booth about head traumas.

“We’re hoping that people take advantage and get more out of it,” Kime said. “We want them to kind of experience and really get the full story.”

The event is free, though there is a co-pay for the helmets. Along with the booths, there will be a bounce house, a bike safety course that children can navigate their bikes through and more.

Austin’s trail system will also look a bit different this year. The city is building another segment of the trail to connect with the current trail, which ends at Bandshell Park. The trail will continue to Ninth Drive, cross over and wind along the river, run parallel to St. Marks property and the Utilities treatment plant, and back to 16th Avenue Southwest, and continue to Fourth Street Southwest, where organizers plan to paint new markings on Fourth Street for bicyclists.

“Those markings are designed to build awareness for bicyclists and motorists to really share the road,” Kime said.

Kime noted bicyclists should obey the road rules to avoid accidents.

“It all goes together to, I think, help be safe and really share the road,” he said. “And I think motorists are more aware and more respectful to bicyclists who are more in that mode.”

Sunday’s event is sponsored by the YMCA of Austin, the Austin Police Department, Rydjor Bike, Mayo Clinic Health System — Albert Lea and Austin, Mower Refreshed, Southern Minnesota Bike Club and Vision 2020’s Bike & Walking Trail Committee. The bash also received grants from The Hormel Foundation, Mayo Clinic Health System and the Southern Minnesota Bike Club.

Safety tips for biking in the summer

•Always wear a helmet

•Be visible and predictable to motorists

•Ride with another bicyclist or in a group more to be more visible

•Wear high-visible clothing; have lights when it is dark

•Always obey the rules of the road

•Use hand signals to indicate intentions

Take advantage of more opportunities

The Bike Safety Bash isn’t the only upcoming biking and walking event coming up.

The city of Austin and Mower County have declared Friday as Bike or Walk to Work/School Day. Bike/Walk to Work or School events are celebrated around the world in May.

Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Austin joins the city, the county and several schools in encouraging employees and students to bike or walk on Friday.

Banfield Elementary School, Neveln Elementary School, Southgate Elementary School, Sumner Elementary School, I.J. Holton Intermediate School and Ellis Middle School in the Austin Public School District and Pacelli Catholic Schools are encouraging students and staff to bike or walk to school.

People around town are encouraged to participate by commuting by human power to work or school on Friday.

Biking or walking to work and school can help in several areas, such as:

• Physical activity boosts health

• It conserves natural resources and reduces the carbon footprint

• It reduces traffic congestion and pollution

• It offers a chance to connect as a community

• It’s fun