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The rules of the road still matter

NL Optimists help kids stay safe on the streets with annual bike rodeo
Five-year-old Lily Smith gives the proper hand signal for a right turn when confronted by a yield sign and right turn sign Saturday, June 1, during the North Liberty Optimist Club’s third annual bike rodeo at the community center. (photos by Chris Umscheid)

NORTH LIBERTY– Sometimes kids need a little reminder when it comes to personal safety. The North Liberty Optimist Club provided a reminder on bicycle safety Saturday, June 1, at the North Liberty Community Center.
Young riders negotiated a course chalked out in the north parking lot consisting of: a right turn, a left turn, a serpentine line, a figure-eight, and a straightaway where the riders were to look over their shoulders as they would on a street or trail looking for traffic coming up from behind them. Throughout the course, the young riders were reminded to give the proper hand signals for turning and stopping.
The Optimists also gave away bike helmets and reflector lights, donated by Sugar Bottom Bikes in North Liberty, and raffled off a pair of bicycles donated by Scheels and Wal-Mart, in Coralville.
A “Slow Roll” family friendly bike ride was held in conjunction with the recreation center in the afternoon.
“We do this for the youth of North Liberty to help promote bike safety,” Optimist Club member Theresa Dunkin said. “Kids are out and they’ll be on their bikes this summer so we just want to make sure that they understand proper bike safety.”
The Optimists are an organization which is a friend to youth, Dunkin said. “We sponsor or donate money to organizations and events that benefit kids.” Last year, the club gave approximately $38,000 to the community of North Liberty for youth programming.
“We help support the bouncy houses at Blues and BBQ, we donate money to Kites For Kids, and the Free Fishing Day for Kids,” Dunkin added.
The club also helps with the rec center’s annual Easter Egg Hunt and sponsors a Halloween event as well.
“Anything to help give kids a safe environment and a friendly place to go,” she said.
The Optimists hold a pancake breakfast, their annual fundraiser, in March.
In addition to learning about and practicing bicycle safety, young riders also had their bike helmets professionally fitted and received minor repairs on their bikes thanks to Gordon Doak. Doak volunteered his time to help the Optimists and oversees a bicycle ministry through the First United Methodist Church in North Liberty. The ministry rehabilitates bicycles and distributes them through the North Liberty Community Pantry.