In addition to giving a young child hours of fun and mobility, bike riding requires knowledge and constant practice of the basic rules of safety. Parents need to teach those basics to their children early and often, and follow up to see that they’re always observed. Whether on a busy street or a mountain trail, the basic safety tips are worth reviewing and enforcing whenever a parent sees a child getting on a bike.
Bicycle Safety Tips for Kids
They should be worn whenever a child bikes on a hard surface, on rough unpaved roads and and in street traffic. Where local laws require helmets to be worn by all children at all times while bike riding, they must be observed by the children and monitored by parents.
The right helmet
One of the most important things that we, as parents, can do to protect our children in the event that they get into an accident riding their bike is to insist that they wear a properly-fitting helmet. Approximately 80% of bicycle related head injuries could be prevented by wearing a helmet. Be sure to buy your child a high quality, new helmet. A second-hand helmet may be compromised if it has sustained impact before.
You can make sure that your child’s helmet fits by adjusting the side straps first. Next, adjust the chinstrap until the buckle fits snugly against the bottom of the chin. The helmet should also fit neatly against the top of the head without any wiggle room. Encourage your child to select a bright- colored helmet such as neon green. This will make your child more visible to motorist and other cyclists. Allow them to decorate their helmet with stickers. This will make them proud of their helmet and more likely to wear it.
Helmets should be fitted individually so they’re comfortable for the child, while also providing maximum protection from falling or other accidents. Bike seats and handlebars should be set and secured for each child’s needs, safety, visibility and ease of operating. Additionally, when a very young child is still learning to ride a two-wheel bike, elbow and knee pads can help prevent injuries from falls.
Buy a bike that fits
The second thing you can do to prevent collisions is to make sure your child has the proper sized bike. They should be able to touch the ground with the toes of both feet when seated on the bike. Having a bike that is the right size gives your child far greater control when riding.
Children should wear shoes that are attached at the back(no flip-flops) and have soles that provide good grip. Grip is needed to provide a solid bond to the pedal surface.
On the topic of equipment, you may also want to outfit your child with knee pads and elbow pads, especially when they are first learning to ride. This can help protect your child from bruises and scrapes and the subsequent scarring.
3. Equipment check-ups
Bikes should be examined regularly by repair professionals to insure safe condition of brakes, tires, lights and other features. Worn-down and damaged tires should be replaced before the conditions could cause accidents and injury.
4. Safety, Safety, Safety
Until they are about age six, children on their bikes should never be permitted to be out of sight of an adult. For some kids, that age may be even older, especially if they’re prone to risky behaviors!
There should be no biking on regular streets allowed until the child is a competent bike rider and mature enough to make good choices. They should still be accompanied with at least one buddy, especially if there’s a fair amount of traffic.
Don’t take risks
Don’t allow your child to ride in high traffic areas. If they stick to park paths or areas in your local neighborhood, they are far less likely to get in an accident.
Encourage your child to watch out for road hazards. They should constantly be aware of potholes, car doors opening, and dogs that are wandering around.
When your child enters traffic, they should first look left, then right, then left again. This is the safest way to enter an intersection.
Absolutely no headphones
Fortunately, there are numerous things that parents can do to make sure their child never gets into an accident in the first place. Children shouldn’t be allowed to listen to headphones while riding. This is a definite no-no since they will be focused on the music rather than on what is going on around them. With headphones on, they will be far less likely to notice important things such as cars and other cyclists.
Children should be well-informed of all safety precautions, while enjoying the freedom and fun of riding their bikes.
Learning to ride a bicycle represents a time of new-found freedom and independence for a child. However, there are a number of rules that must be followed if the child is to be able to survive long enough to enjoy this new-found freedom.
Understand and obey the rules
Obey the traffic rules and use hand signals. Always stop at red lights and stop signs. Signal your intentions well ahead of time if you are planning to turn or stop.
Ride in single file. When cycling with friends, it is tempting to want to ride side-by-side. However, it only takes a split second for a person to lose control of their bike and crash into the person cycling next to them. So be safe and ride single file – not side by side.
Remember that pedestrians have the right of way. This means that if a bike collides with a pedestrian, the cyclist will always be the one who is at fault. When coming up behind someone, your child should ring their bell well ahead of time so they know you are about to pass them. If you are on a very busy sidewalk, then get off your bike and walk it beside you.
Children on bikes should be dressed in bright colors to be seen clearly from a distance, especially at night and in low-light situations. After dark, reflector tape and bike lights enhance safety. Children should be taught from the beginning of their bike riding abilities to expect the unexpected, whether on the sidewalk or street. To insure safety, they should always be ready to react quickly. Additionally, when they’re old enough to ride in street traffic, they must be able to understand and obey all traffic lights, traffic flow, automobile flow and other vital street information.
It is preferable that children don’t ride their bikes at night. For those rare occasions when they have to ride at night, they should wear light-colored clothing with reflective material attached. They can also attach reflective strips to their backpacks or around their wrists of the cuffs of their pants. Children’s bicycles should also be fitted with headlights and taillights.
From leaving the headphones at home to obeying traffic rules, there is much advice we can give our children to help ensure that their bike-riding experiences are safe and enjoyable. Probably the most effective method for getting the kids to cooperate is modeling good behavior to them. Lead by example!