Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda Police Department members stood watch over the city’s high school parking lot Thursday evening, but not because a crime took place.
The department, along with the North Tonawanda Police Athletic League, were narrowing down the final selections for the “bicycle rodeo,” an effort to educate the city’s youth on safety measures related to cycling, just as the long days of summer move into the region.
As parents huddled beneath the shade of a tree about a dozen department members watched a six-staged testing ground for 48 students between the ages of 5 and 12, who whizzed around orange cones and over obstacles.
They were judged on the shape of their bicycles, helmets, reflectors and brakes, along with their skills on the obstacle course, while accumulating points toward their final tallies.
This was the second round of a competition that started in May, with a “champion” selected from each of the four divisions. The top prize-getters received a $100 gift certificate to Walmart, enough to buy a new bicycle and maybe some new components said, Police Lt. Jim Daugherty, who led the event along with Officer Stephen Endres.
But all the young students were winners, with riding gloves, lights and bicycle helmets handed out those who took the second and third place.
Daugherty said the department had held similar “safety rides” several years ago, and recently decided to bring it back with the help of grant funding from North Tonawanda’s East Hill Foundation, which donated $3,000 to the cause.
”With that money we bought all the gear for prizes,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to do inspections and help them learn bicycle safety.”
With funding already secured for an rodeo next year, it could very well become a tradition yet again, Daugherty said.