Organizers gear up for Janesville Police Department's bike rodeo
JANESVILLE — When it comes to rodeo, Mark Bush is a bit of a rustler.
In the past two years, the chairman of Data Dimensions in Janesville has procured a total of 35 bicycles to help the Janesville Police Department make its annual bike rodeo a success.
"This is an unbelievable safety and community cause," Bush said.
Bush first heard about the event a few years ago during a Forward Janesville board meeting. He got to know the event's organizer, Janesville police officer Chad Sullivan, and decided it was a cause he wanted to be involved with.
So Bush bought 15 bicycles from Michael's Cycles in Janesville and had them donated last year. This year, he bought and donated more bikes—20—from Blain's Farm & Fleet.
"I was moved by the fact this even existed," Bush said. "That's why we provide so many bikes."
Members of First Lutheran Church also rallied behind the effort, raising $600 cash and donating several bikes, Sullivan said.
The donations are an important part of making the event successful because it's run completely on donations and "a lot of kids can't afford to have a good working bike," Sullivan said.
The plan is to give away more than 50 bikes at Saturday's bike rodeo, he said.
While the event offers elementary-school-age kids an opportunity to practice bike safety, Sullivan notes it's important to stress that it's not just a Wilson School or Fourth Ward thing.
"It's open to anybody in Rock County," Sullivan said.
The event not only features an obstacle course but also bike safety taught by state-certified, trained Janesville Police Department bike patrol officers.
Children and their parents can learn about how to control their bikes, speed and the importance of wearing a helmet. Food and drinks also will be offered.
Every child who attends Saturday's event can register for prizes by putting his or her name on a slip of paper.
"When it comes time to give everything away, we start drawing names. We give away free helmets, bike locks and scooters," too, Sullivan said.
Free bike licenses also will be issued.
"(Police) Chief (Dave) Moore pays for those, and we license about 70 bikes if not close to 100 every year," Sullivan said.
Other community organizations and businesses also will be on hand to provide everything from anti-drug information to details on fitting bike helmets, he added.
Since starting the bike rodeo 11 years ago, attendance each year has increased. About 50 kids took part the first year, and 250 signed up in 2012.