Summertime presents ample opportunities for kids to hop on bicycles and enjoy some outdoor recreation. Many kids take great joy in biking individually, with friends, and alongside family, but whether it’s on a cul-de-sac, sidewalk, trail or boulevard street, are they fully aware of bicycle safety?
Here are some tips to help keep your kids safe during bicycle outings:
- Always wear a helmet—no exceptions. Wearing a helmet prevents around 50% of severe injuries in a bike accident. All kids (and adults) should strap one on before riding anywhere. Set a good example for your kids by making sure that you wear one when you take off on your own bike.
- Always ride with the flow of traffic. Never ride your bike against oncoming traffic—always keep to the far right side of the road.
- Know the rules of the road. They apply to cyclists as well as cars. You have to stop at every stop sign, traffic light, and use signals to let people around know you’re turning.
- Never pull into an intersection without looking both ways. Looking left and right, making sure there is no oncoming traffic, and double-check before proceeding. Look behind as well to make sure no vehicles are approaching who could make a dangerous turn. Smaller children should walk their bike through intersections.
- Children younger than 10 should use sidewalks. It’s important when riding on sidewalks to beware cars exiting or entering driveways, alleys, or driving through intersections. Also be aware of pedestrians or other bicycles.
Make sure your child’s bicycle is properly tuned up, and that they’re wearing appropriate gear, including close-toed shoes. It’s also risky to wear headphones or use a cellphone while riding a bike, so teach your child to pay close attention to their surroundings and focus only on the road.
Bicycling can be safe and a healthy form of exercise when all of the safety precautions are taken, so practice modeling good bicycling behaviors for your kids and encourage older siblings to do the same. If you do it right, it can become a lifelong passion.