Downtown Ferndale Bike Rodeo Helps Families Spring into Safety

Downtown Ferndale Bike Rodeo Helps Families Spring into Safety

(Sam Gurwin, May 27, 2019)

Ferndale, MI -Spring was in the air on a beautiful Thursday in Schiffer Park for the annual Downtown Ferndale Bike Rodeo. Like a harbinger of spring the event has been preparing young people to pedal safely for about fifteen years.

All around this event the vibrant Downtown was bustling with activity.  In the midst of this,  This bicycling safety event had a “Figure 8” course for the kids to ride on, Helmet giveaways, festive adornments for the kids’ bicycles and even a tour of the fire truck by real firefighters!

Several Ferndale Police Officers were there to help too.”We want to put as many (biking) helmets on kids as we can” said Paul Simpson, Traffic Control Officer for the Ferndale Police Department.

“We have an obstacle course for kids, free helmets for kids…we like to register bikes and we are open to anyone who lives in the area.  We also have a bicycle repair gentleman tuning up bikes and our Ferndale Fire Department is here.”

The Bike Repair & Tune-up Station was manned by the Nickolas Warunek of The Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop. “I am supporting the citizens of Ferndale in the Bike Rodeo, where kids get to come by and can do some figure 8’s and take a safety class. I am going to instruct them, [and] make sure their helmets fit correctly, make sure their bikes are safe to ride.”

Warunek said a bicycle helmet needs to fit snugly, but not crammed, on one’s head and that the strap should have a “couple fingers” gap under one’s chin. If you can pull it off from under your chin it is too loose.

Other Safety Tips from the Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop:

(1) Keep enough air in your tires

(2) Learn how to use the back brake effectively, doing so gently to avoid skidding

(3) Watch for traffic

(4) Look before you cross the street

After sharing his tips, Warunek headed off to the “Figure 8” track to ride his custom-made BMX bike named “Hell Beast.”  He of course had his helmet on!

Cindy Willcock, the energetic Deputy Director of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), kept everything running smoothly. She said a few years ago the Parks & Recreation Department & the DDA combined their Bicycling Events into this Rodeo.

“Tonight you can get free bike licenses, bike safety checks courtesy of the Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop, speak to the Parks & Rec. Department about their programming, there’s decorations for bicycles courtesy of the Ferndale Memorial Association, and of course the skills course for the kids to ride,” she said.

Auxiliary Police Officer Bruce Jarvie of Ferndale is an ever-present figure at this rodeo with his helmet that saved his life when he was in a bicycle accident. Before he was retired he commuted to work. One day he hit a curb while riding on 8 Mile Road, a slip that sent him crashing into the pavement.  A retired Police Officer who witnessed the accident thought he was deceased. Bruce went head-first into the ground. Jarvie suffered a broken pelvis, but it could have been worse.

“The helmet is cracked and crushed…and I was assured by the people in the Emergency Room that if I had not had the helmet on, they would not be treating me, as I would have been dead.”  Bruce explained the helmet did its job by “cracking and crushing so I don’t crack and crush.”  The story demonstrates not only the need for a helmet, but the need to replace every helmet after it’s had an impact.  Jarvie explained that the foam inside the helmet is what cushions the blow. When that foam is crushed it no longer protects as it should.

The free helmets given away mean community kids get the same protection.

“It’s great, we love it” says Kelly of Oak Park. “We love coming Downtown and getting the helmets.  Safety first!”  She smiled as her kids were given a tour of the fire truck.

“It’s super helpful as their heads grow we can get a bigger size.”

Jack Pesha of the Ferndale Fire Department said one of the reasons they were there is “to teach them good safety practices that will last a lifetime.”He also said it’s important to let kids know what police and firefighters look like, so they can trust them should an emergency arise.  “We want to let the kids know we are here.”

The bike rodeo not only keeps kids safe, it is part of Downtown Ferndale’s efforts to promote bicycling culture, as well as bicycling in downtown as a way to reduce parking stresses and encourage good health.  Other events included a community bike ride and a workshop on bike repairs.

For more information on Downtown Ferndale visit  For a list of community events throughout Oakland County check out our Event Page.



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