Children and Bicycle Safety
Bikes aren’t just for adults. That’s a given, and if you rode a bike as a kid, you probably set up makeshift ramps in your driveway, did wheelies and attached a card with a clothespin to make that annoying clinking sound against the spokes. You probably had a bike with a banana seat or those silly tassels at the end of the handlebars…but you probably didn’t wear a helmet, did you?
Of course kids fall down while riding bicycles, we all did. And back in the day we slipped, got scuffed and got right back up and continued riding. However, there’s a difference to being reckless (and who wasn’t reckless as a kid?) and playing it safe.
While a bicycle is probably the first type a vehicle that a child rides, it’s important that they take all the necessary precautions before they even hit the road. There are too many incidents of children being seriously injured or killed while riding, so it’s best to keep them safe from the start, especially with these bicycle safety tips geared for kids.
Helmets are probably the most important piece of equipment a kid (and an adult) can wear while bicycling. Even if your kid is riding in your driveway, it’s best to start safe as an accident can happen in your driveway. It’s a good way to get them on the right track; if they wear a helmet at a young age, they’ll probably do it when they’re adults, and they will practice safe riding throughout their lives.
Proper Bicycle Size
The size of the bicycle is also important. You should never get your child an oversized bicycle with the ide that they’ll just grow into it. A seven year old probably cannot handle a 26-inch bicycle frame, so its best to have your child properly measured for his or her first bicycle. Another important thing to consider: make sure your child’s first bicycle has footbrakes, as young children are less likely to properly handle the coordination of handbrakes with foot pedals.
Signaling and Dealing with Traffic
While we know how to use hand signals while riding, do we really use them? We probably don’t use them as often as we should. However, it’s not a bad idea to get children into the habit of using them from the start; once they learn them, they never forget how to use them. Most kids think of themselves as invincible, but if they’re riding and make a sudden left turn in front of a car without signaling…you’re just asking for tragedy. Make sure your child has a thorough understanding of how to use hand signals, and to be cautious in dealing with traffic.
Other Safety Precautions
While your child should never ride a bicycle at night, it’s still important that his or her bicycle have reflectors on the front and back of the bike. Even in daytime, bicycles can still be hard to see by cars, especially in shaded areas. A reflective vest might also be a worthy investment, which will also increase their visibility. Another crucial precaution is to teach your child to ride with the flow of traffic, not against it. While some bicyclists ignore this basic rule of the road and ride against traffic, it can be extremely dangerous…approximately one fourth of bicycle and car related accidents are caused by bicyclists riding against traffic.
By teaching your children proper bicycle safety techniques, you’ll help them learn how to be responsible riders and probably save their lives.