By Tamas Mondovics
With a continued focus on safety, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies welcomed hundreds of students and parents last month for a traditional back to school Bike Rodeo safety initiative.
True to its namesake, the event, held at Lennard High School, 2342 E. Shell Point Rd. in Ruskin, was a joint effort with a number of agencies and other exhibitors, designed to draw attention to the importance of healthy living with bicycle safety taking center stage in advance of the 2015-2016 school year.
Spearheading the event, HCSO Deputy Thomas Chavez along with fellow deputies, conducted the Bike Rodeo, giving out and fitting hundreds of free bicycle helmets.
“We hope that they will wear the helmets,” said Chavez, who has been conducting the event throughout Hillsborough County for the past 10 years.
A skills course was also set up for the young participants to help them learn the proper safety skills, while operating a bicycle.
“The course teaches our young riders how to stop, how to cross the street, to look for vehicles, and use hand signals,” said Chavez.
Bicycles were provided by the Sheriff’s Office to use during the Rodeo, while Brandon Bike Works owner Jose Velez was also on hand to provide some technical support.
The annual event also allowed for deputies to promote bicycle theft prevention through the Sheriff’s Office’s Bicycle Registration Program, which deputies say is the best way to help the Sheriff’s Office locate, identify, and return a bicycle to it’s rightful owner.
“By filling out the form, a registration number is assigned to your bicycle and the information is entered into our records management system,” said HCSO Deputy Christopher McMurtry.
McMurtry said that bicycle theft is a growing problem as criminal statistics show that nationally, it is on the rise and needs to be addressed.
“Simply by registering your bicycle, you are helping to deter bicycle theft,” McMurtry said.
The Sheriff’s Office wants riders to always secure their bicycle with an adequate bike lock or locks, before leaving it unattended.
For more information about Bike Theft Prevention Program, or to register a bicycle, visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.