Cycling skills clinics, bicycle safety fairs, and bicycle rodeos are local events often run by law enforcement, school personnel, or other civic and volunteer organizations. There may be permanent “neighborhood” layouts where the rodeos are conducted, and the events may be scheduled as part of the elementary and middle school curriculum. Their purpose is to teach children on-bicycle skills such as starting, stopping, weaving to avoid objects, the meaning of traffic signs and signals, some traffic laws and how to ride defensively in various traffic conditions. The intent of these types of activities is to introduce or reinforce bicycle safety concepts learned in a classroom with actual on-bike practice and application. Events can also include discussions and examples of proper bicycle helmet fitting. Skills clinics for children should be part of a more comprehensive program of traffic safety education and training, parent education, and other efforts.
NHTSA collected many examples of these across the country and created a guide of best practices. NHTSA’s Cycling Skills Clinic Guide (NHTSA, 2011) aids first time or seasoned organizers in how to set-up a clinic, stations to choose based on their audience, station set-up, and teaching tools for volunteers).
Although the extent of use is unknown, they are increasingly implemented as part of Safe Routes to School projects and as part of pedestrian and bicycle safety efforts.
While cycling skills clinics or rodeos can result in increases in knowledge and skills, a review of the research literature does not reveal any studies that document crash and injury reduction, at least not in isolation. One program of comprehensive education for preschool children and their parents, that included a skills and safety rodeo, led to a doubling of helmet use (Britt et al., 1998; Rivara & Metrik, 1998). Some studies have found that single event bike rodeos did not lead to increases in knowledge or improvements in behaviors or attitudes (Macarthur et al., 1998); thus, bike rodeos need to be part of a larger, more comprehensive program. See Rivara and Metrik (1998) for a more in-depth discussion.
A one-time clinic or rodeo can be operated with volunteers at minimal cost. A permanent rodeo facility could cost thousands of dollars. Associated costs may include bicycle and helmet rentals, but many communities have bicycle coalitions that have purchased these resources and bring them in trailers to scheduled events or have children or community members bring their own.
Time to Implement:
A one-time clinic or rodeo can be organized in a few months. Implementing a permanent program with a facility may take up to a year or longer.