Gloucester Township Police host eighth annual Bicycle Rodeo Safety Program

GTPD host Bicycle Rodeo Safety Program

Pictured are Cpl. Jose Melendez and Cpl. John McHugh teaching two youngsters how to bike safely. (Special to the Sun)

All right, buckaroos, it’s time to saddle up and get ready for a rootin’, tootin’, genuine Gloucester Township rodeo.

The Gloucester Township Police Community Relations Bureau will be conducting the eighth annual Bicycle Safety Rodeo this Saturday, May 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Veterans Park. The main goal of the program is to teach bicycle safety and the protocol when riding a bike.

The person in charge of the program is Lt. Mark Benton with the operations department. Benton has been with the program for the past three years and loves working with the individuals, trying to teach them the right way to operate a bicycle.
Benton’s years of experience handling traffic on a daily basis makes him the right person for the job to instruct individuals correctly.

“I like it,” Benton said. “Being in traffic and having to handle some of the crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists and getting the opportunity to talk about it is great because they don’t realize you have to ride with traffic. Most people think it’s like walking, you have to ride against traffic, but you are considered a vehicle so you have to ride with traffic.”

The rodeo provides an opportunity for bicyclists to practice and develop skills that will help them to become better bicyclists and avoid typical crashes.

“We set up a course and we have police bike instructors to assist them there. They kind of ride through the course and go through the little obstacle course,” said Benton. “It’s a lot of fun to ride around and do the courses, and obviously you have the safety aspect of it.”

The goal is to provide an opportunity for the participants to learn, practice and demonstrate their bicycle handling skills in a fun, friendly, noncompetitive atmosphere.

The size of the bike and helmet is key for safety purposes, as well as the rules of the road and how to ride and where to ride a bike.

Benton said, “People just think that they are riding a bike, and when they’re riding on the highways don’t realize that it’s like anything else and the more you ride, the better you are with it. It’s definitely like driving a vehicle, the more familiar with the vehicle, the more you’re familiar with how it handles, the better off you are at operating it.”

An aspect that would help bikers in the area would be more bike lanes along the streets.
Benton would like more bike trails around the township, and there have been discussions throughout the state to address the lack. Gloucester Township is trying to be proactive and participate in bringing that type of bike safety to the township.

Residents of all ages are encouraged to attend. Bring your bicycle and bicycle safety helmet so it can be properly fitted by members of Safekids Southern New Jersey. If you have any questions, contact Police Services at (856) 228-4011 Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. or email communityrelations@gtpolice.com.