By Lindy Keyser
Special to the Press
Micky Gunn’s four-year-old son Joey is a daredevil, especially when he gets behind the handlebars of his quick little bicycle. "He has been riding for a while," Gunn said, "but we never really covered safety."
Luckily for Gunn, and other parents in the community, the Prosper Police Department hosted the Bicycle Rodeo at Prosper High School on Saturday to promote bicycle safety. While the threat of rain lingered throughout the morning, the Rodeo went off without a hitch.
"We had a great turnout of 35 or 40," said Police Chief Kirk McFarlin. "We’re hoping to teach the kiddos how to stay safe on their bikes in traffic and how to incorporate these skills into real-life scenarios."
McFarlin is one of two bicycle certified officers on the department and an avid bicyclist in his free time as well. He contacted The Shawnee Cycle Club to assist in setting up real-life scenarios that included a four-way intersection complete with a stop sign. Children learned to obey traffic signs and signal their turns, all while sporting helmets that were provided at the event.
"We do these kinds of things for elementary schools around town, teaching children how to ride safely," said Shawnee Cycle Club vice president Bill Woodward. "When the chief asked us to come out for the bicycle rodeo we said of course. We’re based out of Frisco but try to make a habit of reaching out to surrounding communities."
In addition to the real-life scenarios, Prosper children enjoyed an obstacle course, bicycle safety inspection station, a bicycle safety talk as well as a helmet fitting. The safety inspection came in especially handy for five-year-old Bret Atwater.
"He had a valve that was crooked," said his mother Mary Collins, "so they propped up his bike and fixed it for him."
Saturday’s Safety Rodeo will be especially relevant as Prosper’s bike trails and lanes expand with the city’s "Master Plan." In the mean time, the department’s safety tips are helpful to those who spend much of their time on Prosper’s existing trails.
"I ride my bike a lot," said Dwayne Norvell, who spends a considerable amount of time discussing bicycle safety with his almost five-year-old daughter Addison. "My hope today is that seeing other kids being safe and hearing the police officers teach it will show her that it is really important and not just something that Dad says."
As is the case with all of the Prosper police department’s child-focused events, safety was at its core but fun was a factor as well. "Bret loves to ride his bike," Collins said. "I think he is having a ball."