10 Bike Safety Tips for Kids
Kids’ love bikes! Bikes are a child’s first freedom machine and teach independence to children while they provide fun physical activity. Kids’ bike fatalities are down 95 percent since 1975. Despite this encouraging trend, more children aged 5-14 are seen in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries than from any other sport. A properly fitted bicycle helmet is the single most important safety device for cyclists of all ages and is estimated to reduce head injury risk by as much as 85 percent. Everyone should make it a rule that no one in your family cycles without a helmet, no matter how short the ride.
As the sun comes out and more people of all ages hit the road on their bikes, New West Physicians present ten tips for keeping kids safe on bikes this summer:
Choose the right bike
Children should be able to sit on the bicycle seat, hands on handlebars and have the balls of their feet touch the ground. Don’t pick a bike for you child to “grow into.” Foot-operated brakes, rather than hand brakes, are safest for younger children.
Always wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet
The helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position and not rock forward, backward, or side to side. The helmet straps should form a V under the ears and should be snug but comfortable.
Check the bike’s mechanic often
Are the brakes working properly, the gears shifting smoothly, and the tires tightly secured and properly inflated?
Wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors
It’s important to wear a bright shirt, jacket, and vest, even during daylight hours. Front white lights, rear red lights, and other light reflectors should be placed on the bicycle and worn by the cyclist.
Never ride at dusk or after dark
Night riding requires skills that most children haven’t acquired.
Don’t wear headphones or listen to tunes while riding
Cyclists need to be able to hear oncoming traffic and be entirely focused on hazards.
Follow the rules of the road
Ride on the right side of roads, in the same direction and other vehicles. Obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane marking. Use hand signals when turning.
Beware of drivers in parked cars
They may open their doors or pull out unexpectedly
Don’t wear long or loose clothing
It can get caught in bike chains or wheel spokes
Make eye contact with drivers
Be sure that they’re paying attention before crossing in front of them or pulling into their lane. Just because you can see a driver does not mean they can see you.
Introducing kids to safe biking practices early on helps instill good habits for life and keeps them safe. If you don’t feel comfortable taking your kids on the road, consider registering your child for a bike education program.