Keep Your Kids Safe With These Bike Safety Tips
Riding a bike can be hugely fun for both kids and adults. For kids, learning how to ride a bike is one of the first steps toward being able to get around independently. But as fun as riding a bike is, it can be just as dangerous if it’s not done safely. When a child is trying to learn how to ride a bike, a few scraped knees are inevitable, but there are other steps you can take to make the process a bit safer and will hopefully help start a lifetime of safe biking habits.
Wear a Helmet
First and foremost, children (and adults) should always wear a helmet while riding a bike, even if they’re just going a couple of blocks. Even the most careful bicyclists fall every now and then. Helmets can reduce the risk of serious brain injuries by 88%, but far too many kids still don’t wear helmets while riding a bike. When a helmet fits correctly, you should be able to see the bottom rim of the helmet if you look up while wearing it and the straps should form a “V” shape around your ears. Also, the straps should hug your head if you open your mouth as widely as possible. If the straps feel loose, they need to be tightened.
Stay Out of the Road
Although it’s recommended that adults ride their bikes in the road, following the flow of traffic and obeying the same rules of the road motorists are expected to follow, kids under the age of 10 don’t yet have the reasoning skills needed to ride in the road. Until a child is 10 years old, it’s best they ride on the sidewalk. Even when riding on a sidewalk, it’s still important to ride in the direction of traffic. This way, riding with traffic will already be a habit by the time they are old enough to start riding in the road. If riding a bike on the sidewalk, be sure to yield to pedestrians and use something like a bell or a horn to let pedestrians know you’re nearby. Always stop at corners to check for traffic before crossing.
Bicyclists need to be very aware of everything that’s going on around them. Make sure kids know to not only look out for traffic and pedestrians, but also also for things like cracks in the sidewalk/road, wet leaves, puddles, gravel, and storm grates, all of which could cause a rider, particularly an inexperienced one, to lose control of their bike.
Find the Right Bike
Considering how quickly kids can grow, a lot of parents think it’s best to buy things that are too big so they can grow into it. While it might be OK to do this with clothes, a bike is a different story. Trying to ride a bike that is too large for a person can be dangerous, especially for children who might not have the physical strength to handle a large bike. If a bike is the correct size, a child will be able to sit on the seat and have both hands on the handlebars and the balls of both feet flat on the ground. When looking for a bike with a child, look for a bike that brakes using the pedals instead of handbrakes; a child’s hand muscles might not have developed enough coordination yet to be able to handle a handbrake.