Bike safety for kids is critically important! Bicycle accidents are all too common, and injuries can be life-threatening. Fortunately, by instilling proper safety guidelines at a young age, children will be able to ride safely throughout their lives. It is important to remember that while the following tips will help your child stay safe, they will act based on the behaviors they observe. If parents or their peers do not adhere to safe bicycling measures, kids may not either! Bicycle safety for kids begins at home.
5 Tips for Bike Safety for Kids
- Helmets are NOT optional. When I was a kid, we rarely rode with helmets. Whether it was because we felt we were invincible or were just stupid is up for debate! But numerous studies have shown that helmets save lives. Wearing a bicycle helmet drastically reduces the chance of head injuries and traumatic brain injury (TBI) if a crash occurs. TBI can range from a concussion to life-long brain damage. Remember- helmets must be properly fitted. If you purchase your helmet from a bike store or large sporting goods retailer, you should be able to have a salesperson help you determine a good size for your child. Most helmets come with padding that can be removed or moved about to ensure a secure fit. If you want your child to wear a bike helmet, be a good influence and wear a helmet every time yourself.
- Teach kids to use hand signals. All children who bike regularly should know how to use hand signals, especially if they ride on the street. Explain to children that bicyclists, just like motorists, have to be responsible and that using hand signals allows others to know your intentions.
- Wear appropriate shoes. I always wince when I see kids riding in sandals or thin canvas shoes. Whether in a crash or just trying to avoid one, the chain on a bike can really do some damage. These cuts often run deep and are exposed to grease – definitely not good! Teach your kids to wear socks and sturdy shoes.
- Follow proper biking guidelines. Bike safety for kids means obeying the rules of the road, always. Talk with your kids about the appropriate areas that they can ride. Parks, neighborhood pathways, and empty cul-de-sacs are good places for kids to ride safely. Show your children how to signal appropriately before they turn and, even though kids may never ride on the open road, explain that if they do, they should ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
- Wear bright colors! Teach your children to wear bright clothes when they are cycling. Bright jackets are a good idea, if you can convince your child to wear one. Install lights on the back and front of the bicycle to further increase visibility. There are a number of “cool” lights and reflectors for bikes that kids are sure to love. Best bet: take your child shopping with you and let them choose one that they like.
- Ride with your kids. When you ride with your kids, you can show them best riding practices. Kids emulate the behaviors that they see: if they see you biking safely, they will be more inclined to do the same. Also, you will be able to watch your child ride firsthand. If they make errors (and they will), correct them and take the time to explain WHY they should ride differently.
- Watch out for parked cars. Doorings can be treacherous and nearly unavoidable, so teach your children to steer clear of parked cars. Also, park cars can become mobile very quickly. If kids ride a safe distance away, they are less likely to be struck.
- Teach kids to use bike lanes. More and more cities and towns are adding bike lanes. As infrastructure improves, these lanes allow safe bike riding for all cyclists. Using bike lanes or a bike path helps reduce the risk of your child being involved in a crash.
- Avoid nighttime riding. The rule at my house always was to be back by dark. But even riding at dusk can be hazardous. The best rule should be to get home as soon as it starts to get dark. Riding at night should be reserved for experienced cyclists.
Bike safety for kids should be taught as soon as your child begins riding. Fortunately, many communities offer bike safety courses for kids. These courses are also sometimes part of safety fairs in the community, and you may even be able to score a free helmet!
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Teach your child to appreciate their bike and ride safe; it’s dangerous out there. If they are ever injured in a crash due to the negligence of others, contact Kass & Moses right away for help. Make bike safety for kids a priority in your home!