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Bicycle Safety Week takes on a new look in era of COVID-19

Social distancing means no bike rodeos at local schools, but plenty of online resources available
With Bicycle Safety Week beginning on May 10, riders of all ages are encouraged to take care on the trails and streets of Moose Jaw. (Getty Images)
In any normal year, Const. Kyle Cunningham of Moose Jaw Police Service would be preparing for a series of presentations in local schools as part of Bicycle Safety Week.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing schools to close and social distancing efforts making any significant gathering all but impossible, that won’t be happening when the week kicks off on Sunday, May 10.

Instead, Cunningham and his partners at Sask Prevention and SGI are looking to take it online while offering support to youngsters and families eager to hit the roads and trails in and around Moose Jaw.

“We won’t be able to do any in-person training sessions until it’s safe to do so,” Cunningham explained. “There’s no doubt that we’re just encouraging everyone to ride safe and be mindful of the physical distancing recommendations that are out there, and those may change as the plan moves through different Phases over time. So we’ll watch those carefully and we ask the public to watch those carefully when it comes to getting back to some sense of normalcy.”

Bicycle Safety Week is often a highlight of the spring school session for youngsters, featuring bike rodeos and special school assemblies all designed to show off proper riding techniques in addition to how to maintain and keep your bicycle safe.

“That’s always a fun thing for a lot of kids, to blow the dust off their bikes and grease ‘em up, try on their helmets and see if they fit and get out and have some fun,” said Cunningham, who would normally be taking the stage alongside resource officers and his fellow MJPS cycling gurus. “We miss doing that right now, but we’re asking the parents to pick up some of the slack there, to get bikes maintained and ready for the summer.”

As for right now, the rules of social distancing that were announced as part of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan remain in place – families can get together with one or two other families and go out for rides together, much like how limited visits are currently allowed in general.

What becomes an issue is mass gatherings, like a recent afternoon where dozens of kids were riding at the skate park across from the Kinsmen Sportsplex.

“Having 50 kids showing up at the bike park or the skate park, we’re discouraging that for now,” Cunningham said, adding that he and the MJPS are plenty aware that it’s just kids being kids.

“They want to get outside,” he said. “I don’t blame them, we’re not meant to be cooped up, we’re social creatures and we want to be out there socializing. And kids want to be out there having fun and connecting with their classmates and doing it outside. So we’ll just weather the storm here.”

That’s not to say the MJPS isn’t going to be doing their part during Bicycle Safety Week. Beginning Monday morning, they’ll be posting educational videos, safety activities, challenges and even have a few prizes up for grabs on their Facebook page and Twitter account.

Anyone looking for more information on cycling safety can check out the expansive Sask Prevention Bike and Wheel Safety website for an impressive number of tips, tricks an all the info you’ll need to have a safe riding summer.

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