Teaching our children about bike safety goes right along with teaching them how to peddle. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
The sun is shining; the days are warm; it is time to pull out the bikes!
Now that your child is driving (his bicycle), he needs to learn the rules of the road. This image from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows hand signals your new rider needs to know to be able to communicate with drivers his intentions.
(It’s also a good idea to go over with new bike riders how cars indicate what their drivers are doing such as blinkers, brake lights and backup lights. And teach them to make eye contact with drivers to make sure drivers are paying attention and are going to stop before your child crosses the street.)
Why is bike safety important?
Bike riding is a great way to get from point A to point B. It’s fun and it’s a great form of exercise too. And accidents can happen, especially if biking near roads and cars. Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency department because of bike injuries; some of these injuries are fatally serious, usually head injuries.
Which leads to the first and very important tip.
Bike safety tips
- Wear a helmet for EVERY ride! — A helmet will provide some protection for your face, head and brain in case you fall down. This applies to scooting and roller skating as well as biking. (Skateboarding requires a different helmet.)
- Your children’s helmet should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) standards.
- Make sure your helmet fits correctly; it should sit on top of the head in a level position and not rock forward, backward or side to side.
- Buckle the helmet straps (but not too tight).
Safe Kids recommends kids take the Helmet Fit Test.
- EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
- EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
- MOUTH check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.
- Use the proper size of bike for the child. — Have the child with you when shopping for a bike. When the child is sitting on the seat of the bike, their feet should be able to touch the ground.
- Keep up on bike maintenance. — Make sure reflectors are secure, gears shift smoothly, brakes work properly, and tires are secure and properly inflated.
- Dress appropriately. — Long or loose clothing can get caught in the wheels or chain. If you are riding at dawn or dusk wear retro-reflective materials or at least light colored clothing.
- Speaking of which, use lights. — Use a headlight so motorists can see you. Our kids think the string light that wraps their bikes is fun and it makes them more visible.
- Bikes are supposed to ride on the right side of the road with traffic — not against it. — Have your children stay as far to the right as possible and obey traffic rules like stopping at stop signs. Have younger children (less than 10) ride on the sidewalk and make sure they look out for backing cars in driveways.
- Look both ways. — Just like walking across a street, stop and look both ways, left, right, then left again. If the intersection is busy, walk the bike across.
- Be a good example. — The best way for children to learn and follow the safety rules are for you the parent to do so as well.
- Stay hydrated!
- Oh and have fun!
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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