Summer is finally here! As you plan your family’s fun adventures and activities in the sun, it’s the perfect time to go bike riding, whether it’s in your neighborhood, in a park or on a trail. But as parents, we know we always worry about safety when our kids head out on their bikes. Are they watching out for traffic? What happens if they wipe out and get hurt?
Here are five bike safety tips to help your child stay alert and safe when are out on their bikes. Share these with them before they go out. These tips will not only keep them safe, they will help your child become better cyclists and avoid situations that commonly lead to crashes.
Tip #1: Helmets
Helmets do save lives and will protect against serious head injuries! To keep your kids safe on their bikes, help them understand that they need to wear a helmet every time they ride. Put a sign next to where you store their bikes as a reminder to wear their helmets.
Your child’s helmet should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions (CPSC’s) standards. There should be a CPSC label on the helmet. Also make sure it fits your child properly. It should fit on top of the head and not tipped back or forward. If you do not already have helmets, check with your local bike shop about free or low-cost helmets for your kids. There are also several programs available to provide helmets to children in need. If your child does get into a crash, the helmet should be replaced, even if it looks okay.
Children’s helmets have really fun designs these days, which will help your child feel cool while staying safe. Let your child help pick out their helmet. They will be more likely to want to wear it they were part of the selection process.
Tip #2: Hardware
It’s also important to make sure your child’s bike is the correct size. If your child is a beginner, they should be able to sit on the seat of their bike while also placing both of their feet on the ground. Make sure the tires are properly inflated and that the spokes are tightened, the chain is secured and the handlebars are adjusted to the appropriate level. If you have trouble with any of these hardware checks, you can take the take the bike to your local bike shop for a tune-up.
Tip #3: Follow the Rules of the Road
Teach your children the rules of the road before they venture out on their bikes. Explain the importance of being aware of their surroundings when they are riding. Teach them to ride with traffic and obey the same laws as motorists. This means they should obey all traffic control devices such as stop signs, traffic lights and markings. Finally, make sure your children know to use the right lane that heads in the direction that they are traveling.
Tip #4: Be Visible
Children need to be visible to motorists! This means riding where drivers can see them. Dress them in brightly colored clothes and avoid letting them ride in the evening unless they have a headlight and a red rear taillight on their bike. Reflective clothing or tape is also a good idea if your ride will extend into the evening.
Tip #5: Anticipate Conflicts
Accidents do happen every once and a while, so it is important to be prepared. Teach your children braking and turning techniques to avoid crashes. Also remind them to watch for pedestrians, fire hydrants, fences, potholes, rocks and bushes to avoid potential accidents.
Riding bikes is a great way to get out for some family fun. With these safety tips, you can rest assured that your child is ready for an epic bike adventure!
Theron Pickett is currently a junior at Georgetown University, majoring in Government. She hopes to attend law school in the near future