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Lathrop Police conducting bicycle rodeo on Saturday

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POSTED May 14, 2013 1:59 a.m.

LATHROP –  Bicycle safety is no laughing matter.

Two months ago an 8-year-old girl rode her bicycle from between two parker cars right out into the path of a Lathrop Police Services cruiser.

She wasn’t wearing a helmet, and was struck by the deputy – who didn’t have time to stop or swerve.

And even though she ended up going home with only scrapes or bruises, the entire scenario served as a reminder of why events like Lathrop’s annual Bicycle Rodeo –  being held Saturday, May 18, in the Target parking lot at the corner of Louise Avenue and Golden Valley Parkway –  are critically important.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Lathrop Police Services deputies will be on hand to give instruction on proper bicycle safety and how to avoid incidents like the one that happened on Orlando Lane back in March.

Those that attend are encouraged to bring their bicycles for a free safety inspection and a chance to take a ride through an obstacle course designed to sharpen skills.

“Rather than respond to crime, we really try to push prevention – our motto is ‘in partnership with the community,’” Lathrop Police Chief Danelle Hohe said. “I think the bicycle rodeo is a great illustration of that. At no cost we provide a clinic for all youth that teaches them to ride safely based on an obstacle course other offerings.

“Much like the child safety restraint checkpoint, we provide inspection of the safety equipment that children bring to make sure that it is in working order and worn properly.”

Children that don’t already have one will be given a free helmet courtesy of local merchants and residents that make donations to support the events. Complimentary hot dogs will also be supplied.

Hohe said that the department was found not to be at fault in the accident involving the local 8-year-old girl earlier this year by an independent report by the California Highway Patrol, but that they still examined the situation closely and gave the young girl a free bicycle helmet.

“Those that can’t afford them – we provide free helmets. We’ve had a number of bicyclists injured in the last year and we had something happen with one of our own units,” she said. “It’s a no-cost thing that we do to prevent injury, and we thank people for helping to make this event possible.”

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