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Safety the lesson at Niskayuna "Bike-Pedestrian Festival"

Safety the lesson at Niskayuna "Bike-Pedestrian Festival"

More than 100 take part
Safety the lesson at Niskayuna "Bike-Pedestrian Festival"
Abigail Felpel, 6, receives a bicycle helmet adjustment from mother Erika at Saturday's "Bike-Pedestrian Festival at Niskayuna.
Photographer: Jeff Wilkin/Gazette Reporter

Abigail Svare made all the right moves Saturday morning at Niskayuna Town Hall.

The four-year-old Niskayuna girl rode her small pink bicycle on the winding bicycle "rodeo" safety course in the municipal building's parking lot. She made turns around orange traffic cones and stopped for stop signs.

Abigail finished the challenge with a smile on her face.

"I'm so proud of you," said mom Heather Svare. "You should be proud. That's a lot of work for just a course!"

Children and adults put in work for safety at the town's first "Bike-Pedestrian Festival," designed to keep walkers and bicyclists out of harm's way on town streets. By mid-morning, more than 100 people had wheeled or walked to the party on a warm, late spring day.

"We've had a lot of kids ride through the rodeo, we've given away a lot of free helmets," said Janette Schue, a member of the town's Complete Streets Committee, which organized the event with the town Planning Department. "I feel like we're really giving people a great day out and also making them aware of bike and pedestrian safety issues."

A town police officer and volunteers led young cyclists on safety rides. A bicycle safety video played inside Town Hall, rock band "The Rogues" played outside. The town's 100 percent electric car -- a white Nissan "Leaf" decorated with green leaf decals -- also was on display.

With rebates, the car cost $26,000 and can travel between 140 and 170 miles on a single charge. But just about all the kids at the festival won't be driving for another 10 or 15 years; their personal transportation comes with two wheels.

Emma Grosso, 8, and her sister Clara, 6, tried the rodeo safety course several times. 

"I learned to stay in the lines," said Emma. "And to stop when the path said 'Stop.'"

The girls' mother, Corrie Grosso, was glad to see her young riders learning rules of both road and sidewalk.

"It's great to teach the kids bike skills," Grosso said. "And it's an opportunity to spend time with the family."

Amy Landauer-Ruder helped her son Noah, 3, negotiate turns on the course. Daughter Maia, 5, a more experienced cyclist, pedaled ahead.

"They're just learning how to bike," Landauer-Ruder said. "We wanted to make sure they got some good bike safety and learn some things today. And it's a beautiful day."

Ompragash Ram watched his son Sairitesh Pragash, 7, pedal the course. He liked the guidance children received from festival volunteers. He believes kids listen more to adults who are not their parents.

Rules of the road distributed at the festival included:

* Ride in a straight line, in single file.

* Ride with the traffic flow; ride on the right in the same direction as cars.

* Obey all traffic signs and signals.

* Ride with both hands on handlebars except when signalling a turn or a stop.

* Stop and look left-right-left for traffic before entering a street.

* Walk a bike across an intersection.

* Stay alert; use your ears to listen for traffic and don't wear earphones while riding.

* Watch for parked cars and cars pulling out or into parking space or driveways.

* Check equipment; make sure bike tires are properly inflated and brakes are in working order.

* Watch for potholes, cracks, pebbles or wet leaves.

Bill Chapman, chairman of the Complete Streets Committee, wants to see both cyclists and pedestrians enjoy safe travels.

"We want to promote safety of pedestrians and bicyclists in our town," Chapman said. "It's also important motorists be careful about sharing the road with pedestrians and bicycle riders.

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

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