Bicycling can be a great activity for children—if they know the basic safety routines. The following guidelines can make it easier for you to get your child into the bike safety habit.
1. Helmets and kids – It’s the safety connection that really matters
- Let your child help pick out the helmet.
- Always insist your child wear the helmet.
- Begin the helmet habit with the first bicycle.
- When you ride with your children, wear your own helmet.
- Encourage the parents of your children’s friends to buy helmets.
2. Dress your child appropriately for dawn, dusk or bad weather biking
- Children should avoid biking in the dark. If they must bike at night, make sure their clothing and helmet have reflective strips and that the lights and reflectors on the bike are in place.
- ALWAYS make sure they wear shoes when riding a bicycle! One reader told us that she lost a toe when she was little because she wasn’t wearing shoes and got her toe caught in the bike chain (yowza).
3. Sidewalks and paths
- Start with sidewalks and bike paths until you feel confident your child can handle a road with vehicle traffic.
4. Plan a safe cycling route with your children
- Ride it at different times of the day—the amount of traffic can vary significantly.
5. Make sure schools provide cyclists with “safe areas”
- Look to see where kids can lock their bikes and if it’s near the pick-up, drop-off area (which could have a lot of traffic).
6. Discourage kids from riding alone
- Kids should always try to ride with a buddy (but not on the same bike) and know what to do in case of an accident or if they are followed or approached by a stranger on foot or in a car.
7. Don’t let them ride a borrowed bike
- Make sure they are riding a bike that fits them and that it is in good working order.
8. Warn children of the dangers of using a bike to try stunts and tricks
- ”Showing off” can lead to injuries for the cyclists and his friends.
- Remind children to stop and look for traffic at all intersections, including those where streets cross alleys and driveways.