Putting safety first
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent July 9, 2013 2:44PM
Neil McLaughlin, president-elect of the Portage Kiwanis Club, fits a bicycle helmet for Natalie Potts, 3, during the Portage Fire Department’s June 29 Bicycle Safety Day at Willowcreek Middle School. | Post-Tribune photo
The Portage Fire Department has a limited supply of free bicycle helmets. For more information, call 762-7404.
Updated: August 11, 2013 6:20AM
Natalie Potts, 3, was all ready to go bike riding. She had her Dora-themed bike, her training wheels, and a new helmet, thanks to the Portage Fire Department.
Mom Cathy Constandars of Portage got a helmet, too, during the department’s Bicycle Safety Day, held June 29 at Willowcreek Middle School.
“She’s just started this year, and she’s at the speed where she rides and I walk or jog,” Constandars said of Natalie, adding she’s not comfortable on her bike along her daughter. “But it’s coming soon.”
Natalie had a helmet but it never seemed to fit right so she didn’t want to wear it, her mom said. “We figured if we could get with these guys and get one that fit right, she would wear it.”
The Portage Kiwanis Club helped fit the helmets, and members of the Portage Police Department’s reserves helped out, too, as kids rode their bike through an obstacle course with a stop sign and other common road signs, and a police radar sign clocked how fast they went.
The fire department had 150 helmets for bike riders of all ages to give away, donated by Porter Regional Hospital.
“We want to promote that adults should wear a helmet,” said Dan Kodicek, the fire department’s assistant chief for emergency medical services. The department has sponsored the event 15 of the past 20 years, only canceling because of weather.
The obstacle course helps kids with handling their bikes, as well as alerting them to the rules of the road, Kodicek said, adding about half of the folks who come to the safety day already have helmets.
That included Angela Dixon’s kids, ages 4, 7 and 8. The Portage mom, who admitted she doesn’t ride a bike, said she drove by the middle school and her kids went crazy, so she went home so they could get their bikes and they came back.
“They love to ride,” she said, as they took off for the obstacle course.