Parents who spend the time teaching children bicycle safety are parents whose children have less risk of getting in an accident. When it comes to safe riding habits, it is never too early to teach children how to navigate the road and stay alert for potential dangers. To that end, the following are some things every parent should teach their child about bicycle safety.
- Hammer Home the Helmet. Properly fitted bicycle helmets cut the risk of a serious head injury by approximately 45%. Teach children how to use their helmet and enforce rules about helmet use while riding.
- Stay in the Bike Lane. Children should always be taught to ride on the sidewalk or in a marked bike lane. Make sure that children don’t engage in dangerous behaviors such as riding in the road or riding against the flow of traffic.
- Check Their Clothes. Make sure children wear bright, highly visible clothing when riding. If they are riding after dark, make sure that their clothes are equipped with reflective strips and lights that enhance their visibility in low-light conditions.
- Maintain Their Bike. Always check the child’s bike to ensure that tires are properly inflated, brakes are tight, and other components including the chain and kickstand are functioning properly. It is also a good idea to make sure the child always has a “fix a flat” kit and a pump, and knows how to use these to fix their tires in a hurry.
- Watch Their Riding Times. Most bicycle accidents happen in the early morning, and early evening hours. Keeping children off the road at these times can help keep them safe from traffic accidents. Further, make sure that you tell them which routes they aren’t allowed to travel
- Size Their Bike Right. Children outgrow bikes almost as quickly as clothes. Make sure that they are not riding a bike that’s too small, or too large. The wrong sized bike is difficult to handle and can increase the risk of an accident.
- Turn Off the Noise. Don’t let children ride while listening to music or with cell phones plugged into their ears. These distract from the road and can block out car horns and other warning signals.
Finally, model good behaviors. Children learn by seeing, and copy the behaviors of their parents. Showing them how to safely operate a bicycle is the best way to ensure they adopt safe riding habits when parents aren’t around.