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TROOPER TEACHES KIDS BASICS OF BIKE SAFETY
ORGANIZER REGRETS ONLY THAT
OLDER LUZERNE CHILDREN DIDN'T
SHOW UP SATURDAY FOR SOME POINTERS

By CHARLES H. BOGINO; Times Leader Staff Writer

Sunday, July 31, 1994     Page: 3A CAPTION: STATE TROOPER MARK PRUSHINSKI ADJUSTS THE FIT OF 4-YEAR OLD KYLE KEMPA'S BICYCLE HELMET SATURDAY IN LUZERNE. PRUSHINSKI GAVE KEMPA AND ABOUT A DOZEN OTHER BOROUGH CHILDREN A LESSON IN BICYCLE SAFETY. TIMES LEADER/BOB ESPOSITO

LUZERNE -- State Trooper Mark Prushinski tells the story of the exasperated mother, worried that her son's bad bicycle-riding habits will lead to an injury.
    "Like the one lady said, `Show him how to wear his helmet, 'cause he won't listen to his mom,' " Prushinski said, shortly after giving about a dozen Luzerne youngsters some bicycle-safety tips.
    He left adults smiling, feeling more secure in the wisdom of such pointers as "Obey the same traffic laws as cars. Don't hold onto cars or other vehicles while riding. Use hand signals for turns."
    The kids summed up the lesson more succinctly.
    "He told us how not to get arrested," several of them said, using exactly the same words.
    No matter. What the small group learned in the parking lot of Sacred Heart Church on Saturday was a solid reinforcement, the trooper, the children and the adults said.
    The group appeared to listen to Prushinski. All the bikes were in good shape, he said. All the children -- ages 3 to 13 -- wore helmets.
    Sitting atop his Dyno Detour GT, 10-year-old Jonathan Smith referred to his helmet with a shrug, "Once you start wearing it, you don't really notice it's on."
    The turnout was small, but it was the first reappearance of the community program from a couple summers past.
    Driving through the streets of this quiet borough as summer began, Mary Lukish and her husband, Reginald, noticed the children and teenagers on their bicycles darting in and out of traffic.
    "The children play chicken with you," Lukish said. "And I'm chicken. I don't want to hit anyone."
    Lukish thought back to the late 1950s, when her daughter was a youngster and summer bicycle-safety classes were almost as common as pick-up baseball games.
    Her husband, president of the Luzerne-Courtdale-Pringle Lions Club, was put in touch with Prushinski, whose full-time job is to give such community-service classes in four Northeastern Pennsylvania counties.
    Prushinski covered everything from basic rules of the road to bicycle maintenance.
    Not that Luzerne really is plagued by serious bicycle menaces.
    "The only real problem is we've had a few pedestrians being knocked down," said Robert Lehman, the borough police department's officer in charge of juveniles. "But that's mostly the older kids. The younger kids we have no problem with."
    The older kids weren't there Saturday, which bothered organizer Lukish.
    But the parents who showed up said they were happy their children came.
    Parents tell the horror stories. There was the neighbor kid who wasn't wearing a helmet, went over the handlebars and fractured his skull. There were the others who were nearly hit by cars.
    Smith's mom, Terry Smith, said her son's friends don't get to ride his exceptionally cool bike without a helmet.
    "I've already gotten a couple of kids to get into the habit of helmets," she said. "You want to ride the bike, you've got to wear a helmet."
    For the youngsters, the lure of the daredevil makes it hard to admit that they actually follow the rules. Norman Steinruck, 10, nodded after his mother, Arlene, prompted, that he was very careful peddling over to the church on his Huffy.
    But Norman paused, glanced up at his mom, then added with a sly smile, "I still can really cruise on my bike."
    TIMES LEADER/BOB ESPOSITO
    State Trooper Mark Prushinski adjusts the fit of 4-year-old Kyle Kempa's bicycle helmet Saturday in Luzerne. Prushinski gave Kempa and about a dozen other borough children a lesson in bicycle safety.
   
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