by Mike Anderson

HUNTERSVILLE – The second annual Bike Safety Rodeo brought more than 150 children and parents to Birkdale Village on Fourth of July morning.

“We had a large crowd of young riders,” event organizer Geoff Steele, a member of the Huntersville greenway commission, said. “We’re doing this so they’re safer on the street. It was much better than last year.”

Kids rode bikes decorated with red-and-blue ribbons and navigated a safety course at the center of the development. Volunteers, including town board candidate Melinda Hales, Pam Hester, Kim Aichele, Danny Teague and Steele, staffed the loops in the course to assist young riders. Huntersville police officers blocked Lindholm Drive and Birkdale Commons Parkway to clear traffic.

Developers Diversified Realty, Birkdale Management and the Huntersville Parks and Recreation Department co-sponsored the event, Steele said.  A host of local merchants also set up outdoor booths and sold treats.

Carolina Bicycle Company staffed a tent, where representatives Gene DiMenna and Mike Kelly gave free bike-safety checks. Next door, Todd Steiss, of the greenway commission, and son Ryan passed out maps and brochures listing regional greenways and trails.

Sandy Steele acted as “prize meister,” her husband said. Parents were eligible to participate in a raffle if they brought their kids, and children received prizes if they completed the safety course.

“Kids learn best from their parents how to ride carefully, so we hope to see more families out learning, practicing and enjoying safe biking together,” Carolina Bicycle Company owner Gene DiMenna said.

Parents took the cue, too. They walked beside their children, and some gripped their kids’ handlebars as they rode.