SHELTON — City youth got a lesson in bicycle safety Saturday thanks to the Sutter-Terlizzi American Legion Post 16 of Shelton.

The parking lot at the post’s headquarters on Old Bridgeport Avenue was transformed into a training course, with areas to learn proper riding techniques, helmet fitting and inspection, and equipment repairs.

The program was part of the American Legion's Children and Youth Programs to help promote cycling proficiency, safe riding and as an opportunity for families to get out and have some fun in the community, according to its organizers.

Veterans from Post 16 partnered with representatives from Griffin Hospital, Safe Kids Greater Naugatuck Valley, Safe Kids Connecticut, AAA and the Shelton Police Department. The event was made possible by sponsorship from The Valley Community Foundation.

Volunteers gathered early Saturday morning to set up the course and prepare the different stations. The event was by appointment only with five minutes between start times to ensure social distancing. By 10 a.m., the program was up and running as children began flowing through the course.

Young riders were greeted by Legionaries at the registration table where they were given bike safety education material, reflectors and other safety equipment. Their helmets were inspected and fit checked. Riders were given new helmets free of charge when needed.

Bike inspections were conducted for children who brought their own bikes and minor repairs were made on site by a bicycle mechanic. Once bikers and bikes were road-ready, they received final safety instructions before hitting the course.

While on the course, the young riders practiced safe start/stop procedures, maneuvering around obstacles and being aware of their surroundings, including scanning in all directions for oncoming traffic and the ability to stop, scan for traffic and signalingbefore going through an intersection.

Bikes were made available for children who did not bring a bike with them. After successful completion of the course, each of the 30 participants placed their program completion card in a raffle bag and six children brought home one of the new bikes used on the course.

The bike rodeo was planned to take place in May for around 100 participants. Because of the pandemic, it was postponed until August. A term familiar to all veterans; “Adapt and Overcome” became key in pulling of the program safely, organizers said.

This was one of the first interactive community events held by the partner organizations since the pandemic. Working in the hot August heat and humidity with masks created a need for more frequent rest breaks and additional volunteers to fill in, they said.

The number of participation was also limited to allow for social distancing and time for sanitation of bikes and equipment. Many of those who took part hope to use lessons learned at this event to better serve the community with programs during this time of social distancing, organizers said.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com