Sporting a bright pink new helmet, seven-year-old Isabella Davies charges up a wooden bike ramp without hesitation. There to gently guide her over the top of the wooden ramp are two smiling Edmonton police officers.
Earlier Saturday, Isabella watched a presentation involving a large, jiggly model brain and several eggs to learn about head protection from the Brain Care Centre. She was fitted for a bike helmet, and learned the proper way to wear it.
“It was interesting and cool,” Isabella said. “I’m going to tell (my friends) I learned so much.”
About 100 kids involved with Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton spent Saturday at the Edmonton Expo Centre learning cycling skills and safety at the Eighth Annual Bike Safety Festival.
Police officers and recruits helped children improve their riding, reviewed hand signals and taught them how to properly lock up their bikes.
Det. Paty Dvorak was instrumental in starting the event in 2010 after working the beat in northeast Edmonton. Cycling around with her partner, they encountered many children who were apprehensive of police, and whose bike use was hazardous.
“We would see kids with just really unsafe bike skills: sharing bikes that were not the right size for them, not wearing helmets, not following the rules of the road,” Dvorak said.
She also wants them to know police are safe adults they can approach and trust.
Children all take home a bike helmet, a lock, and a bell, provided by event sponsors. Children who don’t own a bicycle will also get one from Sport Central.
Helen Machar, who was attending the bike festival for the second year, will trade in her broken bicycle for a new one. The 11-year-old liked learning new bike riding skills.
“I’d say it’s really fun, and you get to learn lots of new stuff,” she said.