MPD highlights bike safety with Blizzards — the tasty kind

Kids wearing their helmets, obeying traffic laws or otherwise riding their bikes safely could be rewarded with something every kid likes – free ice cream.

As a way to encourage safe cycling with spring’s arrival, Marshalltown Police officers have begun handing out free Junior Blizzard coupons to young cyclists who demonstrate a commitment to safety, said Capt. Mike Hanken, with the Marshalltown Police Department.

“The main purpose is education and safety,” Hanken said. “Certainly we are wanting to reduce the number of bicycle-motor vehicle accidents part of the way we do this is through these education programs.”

The DQ Bicycle Safety Award project is a partnership between the MPD, the South Center Street and North Third Avenue Dairy Queens and the Iowa Valley Bicycle Club.

Matt Pisney, owner and general manager of the Center Street DQ, said as the weather warms, bike traffic to the store increases.

“As they grow older, they will learn the importance of bicycle safety,” he said. “It brings kids into the store, and hopefully they return as customers.”

Hanken reminded cyclists and motorists alike to be watchful of one another and to share the road and be cognizant of pedestrians too.

Charles Smith, with the Iowa Valley Bicycle Club, said the best thing a parent can do for a child as far as bike safety goes is to put a helmet on them. The DQ incentive program works because it deals with two universal preferences.

“When we are on a bike, we are all kids,” he said. “Everybody rides a bike everybody likes ice cream.”

Tyler Wollam, general manager at the North Third Avenue DQ, said the program is a good way to get the word out about bicycle safety and reward kids in the process.

“Kids are a big part of our customer base, so we want to make sure they are protected and making the right decisions,” he said.

As another way to encourage bike safety, the MPD will again hold bike rodeos at local elementary schools and one at Riverview Park from April 29 to May 18, said Capt. Brian Batterson, with the Marshalltown Police Department. The rodeos consist of three courses on bike safety, including proper hand signals. Prior to the courses, Iowa Valley Bike Club volunteers will fit the children with helmets.

Young bicyclists involved in the rodeos will navigate an obstacle course, Batterson said. Schools will send home information to parents about the bike rodeos.

“It gives them a chance to show us their skills,” Batterson said. “It’s good all around for public service.”

Police will also provide information about bike licenses, which Batterson said makes it easier for police to match stolen bikes with their rightful owner.

For more information about the DQ Safety Award, contact Capt. Mike Hanken at 641-754-5758; for more information about the bike rodeos, contact Capt. Brian Batterson at 641-754-5729.