When I reflect back on my childhood, I remember how different things were. We were allowed free reign of the neighborhood until dark and could ride our bikes through town. Rarely, if ever, did we see anyone with a bicycle helmet. And although we might have had reflectors on our bikes, they probably came as a prize in a box of Fruit Loops rather than from a cycling store. When bike accidents happened, we would come home scraped and bloody, and in hindsight, probably suffered a concussion or two. Fortunately, times have changed.
Why is Bike Safety Important?
A bicycle is a vehicle, but unlike a car or truck, the cyclist does not have the benefit of a steel cage to protect him or her when a crash occurs. The cyclist is vulnerable to injury and often is thrown off the bike in an accident. In the best-case scenarios, injuries are limited to scraped knees and bruised egos. But, far too often, injuries are severe and even life-threatening. That is why bicycle safety is so important. By wearing a helmet and using other protective devices, the cyclist greatly reduces their risk of injury.
Teaching bicycle safety from a young age is important if you want your child to ride safely for life. Proper safety skills, when introduced as a youngster, become second-nature.
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Bicycle Safety Tips
- Wear a bicycle helmet whenever you ride. This is the most important bicycle safety tip to share with your child. Their bicycle helmet should fit firmly, without a lot of give, and should be strapped under the chin. Remember that as your child grows, so does his or her head. Helmets will need to be replaced.
- Bicycle helmets need to be replaced after each crash. If your child comes home with a helmet that shows signs of damage, like areas of paint scraping or abrasions, or your child was involved in a crash, you need to replace their helmet. Helmets are made to absorb the force of a single crash and may not provide enough protection after impact.
- Add lights to the front and rear of the bike and use them. Teach your child to use their lights whenever it is dim outside. This includes times when it is cloudy or overcast. Some even use lights constantly, as they can help attract attention to the bicycle. There is reason to believe this is effective.
- Wear bright clothing or gear when cycling. Help your child select bright-colored clothing that is appropriate, especially when riding on or near roads. Jackets with reflective seams are also a great choice.
- Follow the law and make smart choices. Teach your child about road safety and bicycle safety, and how following the laws helps to keep everyone safe. Encourage them to understand that others on the road will not necessarily notice them when they ride. Teach your child that by riding defensively, they empower themselves and decrease their change of being involved in a crash.
Help your child understand that, no matter how safe they may be, crashes can and do occur. After a crash, get to safety and contact the police, especially if a motorist was involved or there are injuries. At the Law Firm of Kass & Moses, we represent injured cyclists. We are avid cyclists ourselves and work to share cycling safety tips throughout the country.