National Safety Month: Bicycle Safety

We love riding our bicycles in my family. I talk about our love for it in my review of my son’s Boot Scoot Balance Bike.

Since June is National Safety Month, I have listed some tips on bicycle safety. These are tips that are important to teach your children and also to practice yourself.

  • Buy a properly-sized helmet for your child. It should cover their forehead and a portion of the back of their head. Helmets that are more of a “skateboarding” style are ideal for young kids, especially when they are still learning how to ride their bikes; they can fall in all sorts of directions. The helmet should not be tipped back exposing the forehead and the straps should be snug under their chin. Wearing a helmet can help reduce the risk of a severe brain injury in an accident by 88%!
  • Make sure you child knows and understands that wearing their helmet is a requirement for riding their bike. No room for negotiation there — even for a short ride, and even if we didn’t wear a helmet when we were young (I didn’t). If we instill this in them at a young age, hopefully it will stick with them when they are older. In some states, it’s the law for kids under 16 or 18 to wear a bicycle helmet properly. (bicycle helmet laws state by state)
  • Keep your child’s bicycle in good, working order. Periodically, check that the handlebars, seat and wheels are secure. Check that the breaks work correctly and don’t stick. Check the tire pressure and that the chain is in good shape.
  • Make sure your child is wearing bright-colored and/or reflective clothing when they ride. Being visible is especially important when your kid(s) are old enough to ride on the street. But it’s also important when riding on the sidewalks and bicycle paths too.
  • No wearing of headphones or ear buds when riding your bike. No talking on the phone or texting either. I’m not physically capable of texting while I ride, but I have seen someone doing it before!

Photo by fortrucker, used under Creative Commons License

  • Baggy pant legs, backpack straps, shoelaces, and any kind of loose clothing should be secured from potentially getting caught in the chain, the handlebars, or any other part of the bicycle.
  • Set ground rules with your child on where they are allowed to ride. This applies to children of any age. Whether it’s within the limits of a park, sidewalks only or within your city limits, make this a very clear rule for your child. Children under the age of ten should only be riding on sidewalks, not the street. My son is only three-and-a-half and he has a clear boundary on where he’s allowed to ride. I remember when I was a kid only being allowed to ride to my friend’s house and no “dilly-dallying in between.” If it took me longer than expected to get there, my friend’s mom was on the phone with my mom asking where I was.
  • Teach your child to be aware of their surroundings when they ride. Watch for cars coming in and out of driveways. Watch for car doors opening. Watch for pedestrians, pets and other bicyclists. Watch for low-hanging branches, puddles, pot holes, gravel, storm grates, etc. 

Photo by brianac37, used under Creative Commons License

  • If your child is riding on a car-free bicycle path, teach them to be courteous to pedestrians, other riders, strollers and pets.
  • If your child is old enough to ride in the street, teach them the rules about sharing the road with cars safely… ride on the right side of the street, with traffic, not against it. Use appropriate hand signals and follow traffic signals and stop signs. Teach them to make eye contact with drivers to help them pay better attention. If you are riding with your child, teach them these rules by example.
  • Avoid riding at night. It’s much safer to ride during the day. If your child is stuck at a friend’s house, or soccer practice, or whatever after dark, it’s safer to just go pick them up in your car.

Bicycle riding is a really fun way for a family to spend some time together outside, get some exercise and enjoy some beautiful weather. Doing it safely ensures that everyone can have a good time.

Resources:

NHTSA Bike Safety

Kids Health - Bike Safety

Healthy Children - Bicycle Safety Myths and Facts

Check out more articles from Mama Say What?! celebrating National Safety Month: Car Seat Safety, Kids and Car SafetyBath Time SafetySafety At Home

4 Responses to National Safety Month: Bicycle Safety

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