By Karen Zautyk
From 1 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 28, the parking lot at Kearny Federal Savings Bank, 614 Kearny Ave. (just north of Midland), will be transformed, becoming the site for:
* An obstacle course;
* Bicycle safety instruction (don’t worry; there are no classrooms, talking and chewing gum will be allowed, and these “lessons” are fun);
* A cycle repair/inspection station;
* A place to get lots of fun giveaways, and * A race course, where speed is not only the least important factor, but will work against you. I
t’s all part of the third annual Bicycle Safety Fair conducted by the Community Policing (COP) Unit of the Kearny Police Department and designed to educate youngsters in all aspects of safe riding.
This year, the police are partnering with the Hudson Transit Management Authority, which is all about improving transportation in the county, including those sometimes overlooked means of transit: walking and cycling.
Co-sponsors include Kearny Federal, which will be donating two bikes — one boy’s and one girl’s — the winners to be selected in a free raffle.
And the Kearny Optimist Club will be giving away free bike helmets to the first 85 participants who need one. If you do need one, we’d suggest showing up early. Last year, about 100 children attended the event.
“By 20 minutes to 1, the line was down the block and around the bank,” noted Officer Jack Grimm of the COP unit.
Grimm and COP Unit chief Sgt. Peter Caltabellotta will be at the fair again this year, along with other members of the KPD, including Officer John Fabula, who is a bike mehanic. If you like, Fabula will inspect your bicycle and make necessary adjustments and minor repairs.
The police will also offer a bike-etching station. Your cycle will be given its very own number, which will be registered with the KPD and can help recover your two- (or three-) wheeled treasure if it is ever lost or stolen.
Representatives from UMDNJ (University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey) will be on hand to help with helmet fitting. A helmet too loose or too tight or worn the wrong way doesn’t offer the protection it should.
A new participant this year is the AAA, which will be providing general safety information, as will the Kearny Fire Department, focusing on household safety.
As for the events, there will be that obstacle course, a zig-zag route through those familiar big orange traffic cones; training in proper signaling, and critically important “intersection awareness.”
The thing that we don’t want to miss is the “slow race course.” This will be all about maintaining balance, not speed, and the winner will actually be the last cyclist to cross the finish line. (Children only; no tortoises or hares allowed.)
And, of course, everything at the Bicycle Safety Fair is absolutely free.
As Grimm noted, “All you have to do is just show up.”