Oh, the freedom of our first independent mode of transportation – the Bike! As young children get old enough to learn to ride a bike, it’s their first experience with transportation independence. They may only be riding down the block or around a park, but it’s still freedom. As with most things in life, bike riding does come with some necessary precautions to keep everyone safe.
Teach your child these basic safety rules:
- Wear a helmet.
- Ride on the right-hand side, with traffic.
- Use appropriate hand signals.
- Respect traffic signals.
- Helmets may not be considered cool, but they are lifesavers, plain and simple. The same way that a child must buckle up in the backseat, she must also wear a helmet when riding her bike, even if it’s just around the corner.
- Only use helmets designed for bike riding, and make sure they fit properly and are buckled correctly.
- When on longer family rides, it’s wise to take a small backpack with snacks, water, first-aid kit and bike tools in case of a flat.
- As your young riders get the hang of their bikes, make sure that they are always within safe spaces to ride.
- Create a family bike safety chart to make all of the household riding rules very clear.
- Spell out why the rules are in place and continue to reinforce them over the years.
- Teach them to always ride in the same direction of traffic and how to use hand signals.
- Even with a light and reflectors, children should not ride their bikes night. It simply isn’t safe and it is not worth them getting hurt.
Bikes are not one size fits all, and it can be difficult and dangerous for children to ride a bike that is too big for them. Instead of getting them something they may not be able to control, get them a bike that fits their current height, keeping in mind that the seats are adjustable. Sports resale shops are a great place to sell, buy or trade bikes.
Riding is a wonderful form of exercise and family fun. Sadly, hundreds of children are injured each year due to bicycle accidents, so it’s important to explain the rules, provide well-fitted helmets, and clearly define the rules and the safe places they can ride.