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Brookhaven bike rodeo draws hundreds

The Brookhaven Traffic Safety Division and the Suffolk

The Brookhaven Traffic Safety Division and the Suffolk County Police Department held its third annual Bicycle Rodeo at the Holtsville Ecology Site’s mock-roadway area, popularly known as Safety Town. (April 30, 2011) Photo Credit: Brittany Wait

Wearing shiny new helmets, children hit the course Saturday and learned how to safely ride their bikes in a kid-sized neighborhood setting.

The Brookhaven Traffic Safety Division and the Suffolk County Police Department held its third annual Bicycle Rodeo at the Holtsville Ecology Site’s mock-roadway area, popularly known as Safety Town.

Julia Brandimarte, of Mastic Beach, watched as her 8-year-old daughter, Emilia, was fitted for a bright purple bicycle helmet Saturday.

She looked up and told her mom, “It fits! It fits!”

The first part of business is to fit children ages 5 and up with the right sized helmet.

Safety Town has turning lane arrows on the roads, two one-way tunnels to teach children the dangers of one-way streets and traffic lights timed to turn from green, to yellow and of course to red.

Popular with the children, the railroad crossing tested their patience, with a red light flashing in their eyes and a dinging in their ears. The roads are modeled after Long Island towns providing the children with hands-on experience.

“I think this is an excellent place for them to perfect their skills and learn about how to stop at stop signs, stop lights and railroad crossings,” Brandimarte said. “I think that this is a great idea, an excellent idea and I hope that it stays open so more kids can enjoy it.”

Councilwoman Kathleen Walsh said Brookhaven gave away 200 helmets, but said that 500 people attended the bicycle safety event.

Not only did the children get to have fun, but adults had a chance to play too. The DWI program, supervised by the police department, simulated drunk driving at fast speeds.

One man maneuvered a pedal cart through a narrow stretch of winding “road,” outlined by traffic cones while wearing beer goggles. The supervising police officer laughed at the man and said, “Oh, you killed another one.”

“The whole goal of it is to keep the kids safe and let them have as much of an experience in being safe on the road as we can,” Walsh said.

Although Safety Town is booked solid throughout the season with two third grade classes coming to play and learn each day, the next event is on June 18 when it opens back up to the public.

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