The city’s inaugural Bike Rodeo held in conjunction with the 2018 Martin Luther King Day of Service on Saturday, January 13 was popular with kids who enjoyed participating in a “rules of the road” riding skills course.
Held in the parking lot of the Michael J. Yakes Recreation Complex and Gulfport Recreation Center from 9:30 to 11 a.m., the organizers also offered free bike registrations, new helmets, bike lights and locks, and water bottles. A raffle to give away up to six refurbished bicycles was also available.
“I’m here to have fun and be in the rodeo,” said Anastasia Bard of Gulfport. “I learned how to ride my bike this past summer.”
Caleb Baker of Gulfport rode his bike to the event. “I also like to ride my bike around the baseball field,” he said.
The purpose of the rodeo is “to help kids at an early age learn to be safe, conscientious and to learn the rules of the road,” said Gulfport Community Policing Officer Zack Mills. “We’re trying to help them become more aware of what’s going on when they’re riding their bicycles.”
Organizers also offer bicycle safety checks to make sure the mechanics are working well, he said.
“The Bike Rodeo is a good beginning to get into the routine of using personal protective equipment such as the helmets,” said Gulfport Mayor emeritus Mike Yakes. “People need them whether they are a child or adult. The first thing BMX champions do is get their safety equipment prepared and make sure that it fits properly. I want our children in Gulfport to be the example that it is smart to wear safety equipment.”
Yakes is the namesake of the complex and one of the directors for the MY Foundation, a local non-profit that co-sponsored the rodeo.
“The rodeo promotes good judgment skills and is the beginning part of obeying traffic laws,” said Yakes. “It’s the first step of getting your driver’s license.”