Thanks to the persistence of a Santa Rosa Academy senior, Menifee youngsters got their first exposure to a bike safety rodeo Saturday.
A product of 18-year-old Nikkolas Baker's senior project, the bike rodeo attracted dozens of children and their parents to the parking lot of the Antelope Menifee Rural Center on Haun Road. Young bicyclists were allowed to test their riding skills on an obstacle course, have their bike safety checked, enjoy face painting and refreshments, and watch a pedestrian safety magic show.
A bicycle officer from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department set up orange cones to create a course for riders to maneuver through. Later, he spoke to youngsters about safety and traffic laws, including the required use of a helmet. Inside the Rural Center, "Mr. Porkpie" used magic tricks to teach children about the importance of safety on the streets.
"I used to go to a similar event in Ramona when I was younger," said Baker, sitting on the seat of his bike as he watched others take on the obstacle course. "I liked the fact people cared about kids and wanted to teach them about bike safety. I hadn't seen anything like it in Menifee, so instead of having a food drive or something like that for my senior project, I chose this."
Baker said he went to the City of Menifee and local school districts in search of a suitable site for the event, but insurance requirements were prohibitive. City Councilman Tom Fuhrman provided an answer by recommending the Rural Center, which already had an insurance policy in place and a suitable location on open land.
That gave local youths an opportunity to gather together for a fun morning and afternoon of bike riding, safety education and socializing. The magic show by Mr. Porkpie was an added dimension to the experience.
"We talk about pedestrian safety, using tricks," said Mr. Porkpie, aka Andrew Remnet, who gives similar presentations at local schools. "I use a small puppy to show the kids that if their dog goes into the street, don't follow him. And they might not be able to read street signs, but I can teach them that a red sign means danger."