EMU campus police will offer bicycle safety tips to young people in a safe and fun environment this Saturday at the second annual Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Police Department Bike Rodeo.
The free event takes place in the EMU Convocation Center parking lot, 799 N. Hewitt Rd. in Ypsilanti, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3. Sgt. Joseph Torres, patrol operations sergeant for the EMU Police Department, says the event grew out of an effort to expand EMU's crew of bicycle officers.
"We put on a bicycle officer school at the university, and now we have 11 certified officers who patrol 24/7 on bikes throughout the summer," he says. "We talked about ways to reach out to the community and came up with this idea to promote bike safety."
The EMU police reached out to businesses in Ypsi and Ann Arbor to donate helmets, other gear, and money to support the event. The Washtenaw County Sheriff, the Michigan State Police, and the Ypsilanti Police Department have also been invited to participate, but Torres says attendance from other forces will depend on staffing levels on the day of the rodeo.
Last year, about 120 participants and 30 volunteers attended. This year, Torres says he expects turnout to be closer to 200, and hopes to bring in families and children with the lure of free food.
"We will have a food truck there, and I will have food tickets for the first 180 (attendees) so they can get free food," he says.
When participants arrive, they come to a welcome table where they get information about the rodeo. At the second table, visitors can get a free helmet. Torres says most helmets are for children, but several adult-sized ones have been donated as well. Next, officers complete a mechanical check on bikes to make sure they are road-worthy.
After that, officers talk about riding safely in the community and do demonstrations. A pattern of traffic cones is set up in the parking lot, and children can ride around them with officers.
"We show them some of our tricks and things we do on patrol," Torres says. "They have a good time riding around the obstacle course, and then hopefully they'll have some food and meet our K-9."
Questions may be directed to Sgt. Torres at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of Purple Walrus Press.