Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cpl. Skylar Garner fits Ethan Swartz with a bicycle helmet at Bristol's bicycle safety program on June 7, 2014. (Miriam Nowak / The Elkhart Truth)

Grace and Ethan Swartz learn the hand signal for a left turn from Cpl. Skylar Garner at Bristol's Bicycle Safety program on Saturday, June 7, 2014. (Miriam Nowak / The Elkhart Truth)

Grace Swartz navigates the bicycle course with Cpl. Skylar Garner at the Bristol Bicycle Safety Program on Saturday, June 7, 2014. (Miriam Nowak / The Elkhart Truth)
Bristol bicyclists learn how to ride safe

Posted on June 7, 2014 at 3:37 p.m.

BRISTOL — Some bicyclists in Bristol are riding more safely, thanks to a free bicycle safety rodeo and helmet giveaway at the Bristol Public Library on Saturday, June 7, put on by the Bristol Police Department.

“School is out, and now is the time that we are going to see kids out on bikes,” said Bristol police officer Cpl. Skylar Garner. “We want to inform adults, too, because the hand signals are the same as automobile drivers use, but people don’t normally signal that way anymore and it’s becoming a lost art.”

Aaron and Rita Tiffany of Bristol came to participate in the program and get a helmet for Rita.

“We want to ride on the Pumpkinvine, and we just got our bikes fixed,” said Aaron Tiffany.

“I haven’t ridden my bike in probably fifteen years, and I don’t have a helmet,” said Rita Tiffany.

Bicycle Safety Tips

Cpl. Skylar Garner of the Bristol Police Department gave participants bicycle safety information from Safe Kids Worldwide ( and MACOG, the Michiana Area Council of Governments. They have more safety information at their website, 

  • Make sure the bicycle and helmet fit the rider.
  • Keep bicycles in good working order — check brakes, tires and gears. 
  • Bicycles should have reflectors on the front, back and sides. Riders should wear reflective material or easily visible clothing so motorists can see them. 
  • Always wear a helmet when you ride.
  • Safe Kids recommends that children younger than 10 should only ride in good weather during the day. They should stay on sidewalks and bike paths, not roads. 
  • Ride right — bicyclists ride on the right side of the road, with traffic. Pedestrians walk on the left side of the road, against traffic. 
  • Cross streets at crosswalks whenever possible. Stop and look left, right and left again. Wait for vehicles to pass by before you cross. 
  • Use hand signals to indicate when you plan to turn or stop. Extend your left arm out straight to indicate a left turn. Extend your left arm out and bend your hand up from the elbow to indicate a right turn. Extend your left arm out and bend your hand down from the elbow to indicate a stop. 
  • Bicyclists need be alert to other traffic and to the road surface. Bicyclists are to obey all traffic laws, just like motorists.

The Bristol Police Department buys bicycle helmets in bulk at a discount from Safe Kids of Elkhart County to give out at bicycle safety programs.

Garner taught participants the hand signals and then had them ride through a course marked with safety cones to practice them.

The Tiffanys said they would send their son and neighborhood kids back to the library for the bicycle safety program. Garner is hoping the program becomes an annual event.

“I think the library is a great place to do it, and I want to build it into a child safety day, with more exhibits and information,” said Cpl. Garner.

The Bristol Police Department donates two bicycles every summer to the Bristol Public Library to be given to the top boy and top girl readers in the library’s summer reading program.