Biking is a great way to form friendships, strengthen family bonds, get exercise, and reduce our impact on the environment. But, every child who gets on a bike needs to be prepared. According to Kaiser Permanente, more children between the ages of 5 and 14 get admitted to emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries than any other activity-related injury. Kaiser stresses the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet and following 10 basic safety rules:
Choose an Appropriate Bike
For Bike to Work Day, Bike to School Day or any other bike-riding adventure, it’s vital that kids are on the right bikes. Children should be able to have their hands on the handlebars and the balls of their feet touching the ground while they’re sitting on the seat. Don’t buy a bike your child will “grow into.”
Wear a Correctly Fitted Bicycle Helmet
Kids’ helmets should sit on top of their heads and be level. If a helmet rocks backward, forward or side to side, it doesn’t fit correctly. Helmet straps should create a V under the ears and be snug while staying comfortable.
Evaluate the Bike’s Mechanic’s Regularly
Make sure brakes work, gears shift smoothly, and tires are properly inflated.
Dress in Bright, Neon or Fluorescent Colors
Wear a bright or fluorescent vest or jacket over clothes if they don’t stand out. Reflectors on clothing are ideal.
Avoid Rides After Dusk
Take the kids on bike trips before the sun goes down. After dusk, riding requires skills many children don’t have.
Don’t Listen to Music or Wear Headphones
Riders need to be able to hear all of the sounds of the road.
Follow All Road Rules
Cyclists should ride on the right side of the road and travel in the same direction as the other vehicles. Obey traffic signals and signs, and lane markings.
Watch Out for Drivers Parked in Cars
Pay attention to parked cars that might pull out suddenly or drivers inside that may open their doors in front of you.
Wear Close-Fitting Clothing
Loose clothes may get caught in bike wheels and chains.
Make Eye Contact
If you’re crossing in front of a car or pulling into its lane, try to make sure the driver sees you.
Adhere to these general guidelines for proper bike safety. And of course, have fun during National Bike Month.