Southfield, Lathrup team up for Bike Safety Rodeo

By: Jacob Herbert | Southfield Sun | Published July 30, 2021

 Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren poses for a photo at a recent bike giveaway. The Southfield Police Department recently partnered with 411 Therapy to give away 15 bikes to students at Southfield Public Schools.

Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren poses for a photo at a recent bike giveaway. The Southfield Police Department recently partnered with 411 Therapy to give away 15 bikes to students at Southfield Public Schools.

Photo provided by Elvin Barren

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SOUTHFIELD — As in-person events continue to return, the city of Southfield has teamed up with the city of Lathrup Village, the Lathrup Police Department, the Optimist Club of Southfield-Lathrup Village, Hope United Methodist Church, 411 Therapy and the Road Masters Vette Club to sponsor a Bike Safety Rodeo 9 a.m.-noon July 31 at Hope United Methodist Church.

The event will be a fun-filled day complete with bike education for both parents and kids. The police and fire departments from both cities will start the day with a bike safety seminar, followed by bike inspections and minor repairs, which will be done by American Cycle and Fitness.

Event planners will also have a bike decoration station, and the Oakland County Health Department will have a tent on-site where attendees have the option to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I am ecstatic,” said Optimist Club President Cherryl Thames. “I am so energized that we are able to have this amazing team come together to do this for our children after a year of such unprecedented circumstances. I believe this is a blessing, and it’s going to be wonderful.”

Children must be between the ages of 4 and 13 to participate in the event. Thames said everyone will be together for the bike education portion in the morning, and then will be split up by age group for the remainder of the day, which will end with an obstacle course.

Kids at the event will receive gift bags complete with a backpack, a safety kit, coloring books and crayons. There will be CPR training on-site, and the kids will receive a certificate for completing the program.

“Teaching kids how to be safe while having fun is so very important,” Thames said. “It teaches them good manners as well, so it kind of helps to educate the child not just on stopping at a stop sign, but being respectful of other people. It’s a holistic opportunity to educate the children and their families to help ensure they have the best quality of life possible.”

Just like Thames, Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren is excited to work with local youth.

“Well, as I always say, ‘The chief loves the kids.’” My biggest takeaway from this will be engaging our youth,” Barren said. “I also like them to see police officers in a nonenforcement light so they can see that we’re just like them. We come from the same communities and the same backgrounds. We’re human, and it’s important for these children and their families to see us in this positive light.”

For Barren, teaching the proper bike safety practices to kids is a top priority, and he has statistics to back up its importance. According to Barren, there were 846 fatalities and 49,000 injuries nationwide in 2019 as a result of bike accidents where a bike came into contact with a motor vehicle. In Michigan, the chief said, there were 21 fatalities and 1,129 injuries.

“If you look at the 2019 statistics, the top age group for injuries in bike accidents is 11-15,” Barren said. “So we’re going to continue to focus on our youth. Certainly there will be a portion for parents and other community members who are also invited, but this event will be focused on our children to ensure their safety.”

In tandem with being able to engage local youth, both Barren and Thames are excited to partner with the other organizations that are coming together to put on this event: 411 Therapy, which is a physical therapy office in the heart of Southfield, recently gave away bikes to 15 Southfield Public Schools students.

“This collaborative partnership between these community stakeholders, I don’t know if we’ve ever done anything like this together before and I’ve lived in this community since 1988,” Thames said. “Coming together to work together to do this is just the beginning of a collaborative future, which gives us an ability to take things to the next level.”

For more information on the Bike Rodeo, call the Southfield Police Department at (248) 796-5300 or visit www.cityofsouthfield.com.

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