Maple Elementary kids Walk and Roll at Bike Rodeo

The Bike Rodeo on May 22, 2018. (SBG)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Maple Elementary is participating in their Walk and Roll Challenge this week, an initiative that gets students walking and biking to school.

An event that encourages healthy transportation, the Springfield Safe Routes to School Program put on the Maple Elementary Bike Rodeo Tuesday evening.

The event was special for many reasons including for how much fun the students told us they were having.

And the word is spreading. Organizers say the event is in its second year and already growing significantly.

"My experience I have out here is, it's fun; it's really fun," said second grader Jet.

"I really like riding bikes,” said Tristen, a fifth grader. “I like doing tricks and racing and stuff."

Most of the kids brought their own bikes to enjoy all the activities the bike rodeo had to offer.

A bike mechanic was on standby making sure every child could participate.

"Filling up tires, checking brakes, lubricating chains and getting bikes set," said Safe Routes to School Coordinator Laughton Elliott-DeAngelis.

Once the bikes were set it was off to the traffic garden, an obstacle built in the likeness of an actual street network.

“So, there's going to be actual traffic signs,” said Elliott-DeAngelis, “kids are going to need to stop, signal for their turns, and basically just familiarize themselves with infrastructure in an environment that's a little bit lower consequence than actually biking on a street."

Biking on a grass all-terrain course was an option too.

And when the kids needed refreshments, they made smoothies at the pedal-powered smoothie station, burning calories while making the drinks.

The kids said there were many takeaways from the Bike Rodeo, like having fun, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, and getting exercise.

Although the event is geared towards having fun, Elliot-DeAngelis has two big takeaways from the bike rodeo: safety and learning a healthy lifestyle.

"Traffic violence is a huge problem in our state so kids learning how to bike safely and to follow laws, and to do the things they need to do to keep themselves safe. They’re getting out there, walking and biking in their neighborhood, getting off the screens."

The Safe Routes to School Program is part of a large statewide initiative to promote active and safe transportation.

12 schools in the Springfield School District join more than 250 schools registered for the Oregon Walk and Roll Challenge.

For more information visit the Safe Routes Facebook page and the Springfield School District website.

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