first_imgThe lesson that Elias and Galante were trying to make to about 200 students who were sitting inside the gym Friday morning was clear: Wear a helmet when you ride your bike. It could save your life. So far, about 25 students have signed up for the rides. Students who participate in the rides will be entered in a contest to win a bike. “I think it is a positive program for Ocean City. Ocean City is known for bike safety,” said Galante, who owns two bike rental businesses in town and is a member of the city’s Healthy Living Advisory Council. Benfer, who coordinates the school’s bike safety program, said a “strong amount” of students ride their bikes to the Intermediate School. As part of the bike safety program, community volunteers and police officials will chaperone students on bike rides Monday through Friday next week to and from the Intermediate School. “We have five bike racks and they’re full,” he said. “Some of the teachers also ride bikes to school.” “If you don’t wear your helmet, you can easily crack your head open,” added Brendan Bergman, 10, another fourth grader. Ocean City boasts more than 100 miles of bike paths, including the Boardwalk, and has been recognized by the state as one of the most bike-friendly communities in New Jersey, Galante explained.center_img Next, Tony Galante took another melon and plopped it on the floor. This melon wasn’t protected by a bike helmet and it split in half. “It’s very, very important that you wear a helmet for those reasons,” Elias, a member of Ocean City’s Community Policing Unit, told the fourth and fifth graders. “We’re not trying to scare you. We’re trying to protect you.”Police Officer Jennifer Elias and retired teacher Tony Galante use melons to demonstrate the importance of wearing a helmet while biking.Elias and Galante were part of a bike safety seminar conducted each year at the Intermediate School in cooperation between school, city, police and fire officials. The program promotes the dual themes of safety and physical fitness. The seminar’s always-wear-a-helmet message was not lost on the students. Galante, 59, a retired Ocean City High School physical education teacher, told the students that biking and other forms of exercise promote a healthy lifestyle. But he emphasized the need for safety, particularly the use of a helmet.Ocean City’s Community Policing Unit participated in a bike safety program Friday at the Intermediate School.Elias wasn’t aware of any bike accidents in recent years involving Ocean City students. But Andrew Benfer, a fourth grade teacher at the Intermediate School, said two students were involved in bike accidents last summer, although they were not heading to school or participating in school activities. “It taught me to wear my helmet or else I could get hurt,” said 10-year-old Giovanna Barbato, a fourth grader. About 200 students in the fourth and fifth grades at the Ocean City Intermediate School participated in a bike safety seminar.By Donald WittkowskiPolice Officer Jennifer Elias placed a melon inside a bicycle helmet and dropped them both on the gymnasium floor at the Ocean City Intermediate School. The melon didn’t get a scratch.last_img