Bicycle riding is a fun healthy way to be independent and get out of the house away from the TV and Video Games. But it is important for our children to remember that a bicycle is a vehicle and not a toy and that safety equipment is a must while riding their bicycles to ensure their safety.
Here are some safety tips to keep your child safe while riding
- Bicycle Helmet - A properly fitting helmet could end up saving your child's life. Fact: According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - 500,000 people report bicycle injuries every year of that 700 of those cyclist die from their injuries. 62% of those deaths resulting from head injuries. In a typical year 15 year olds or younger account for half of the nations fatal bike accidents.
- Inspect your equipment - Check your tires to make sure they are properly inflated and that your brakes work. Check your helmet to make sure it is properly adjusted. If you are riding at night make sure that you have the proper gear on and attached to your bicycle.
- Adjustments - Make sure your seat is adjusted to the proper height for you and that it is tightly secured as well as your handle bars and tires.
- See and be seen - Wearing lighter colored clothes gives you more of a chance of being seen but it is not as effective as you would think but it is definitely better then wearing dark clothes at night. Your best option is to wear neon, fluorescent or bright colors during the day and at night. Also at night you want to wear something that reflects back light like a reflective jacket, reflective tape, flashing lights on you and/or your bicycle. And remember just because you can see the vehicles doesn't mean they can see you so make sure you are seen before you attempt to cross in front of them!
- Have Control - Always have control of your bicycles. If you need to carry anything like books, groceries etc. Put it in a bicycle pack or a backpack NEVER ride with no hands on the handlebars. Although it looks cool you never know what will happen, a dog/cat/kid/car can end up in front of you within a split second and you wont have time to respond with no hands on the handlebars. Better to be safe then sorry.
- Watch for road hazards - Keep an eye out for any hazards you might cross on the street such as glass, pot holes, gravel, dogs, cats, kids, puddles etc. anything that can cause you to swerve to get out of the way and into oncoming traffic or a dangerous situation so that you can make your safe getaway avoiding any accidents.
- Night riding - It is best to avoid night riding all together if possible as you are a lot harder to see then you would think. However, if you must ride at night take every safety tip from above and make sure you have all lights, reflective gear and safety equipment properly equipped and pay really close attention the entire ride. Also add reflectors to your tires so that vehicles from your side can see you as well.
Bicycle rules on the road
- Traffic - While riding you are to ride with the flow of traffic not against it!
- Traffic laws - On a bicycle you are to follow all traffic laws as it is considered a vehicle which means speed limit, turning, stop signs and lights, lane markings etc.
- Be predictable - Don't swerve in and out of cars even if it is backed up, ride in a straight line and always use your arm to signal your turns to others.
- Turning - Always look before turning just as you would if you were driving a vehicle and again make sure you are signaling that you are going to be turning.
- Parked Cars - Ride far enough away from parked cars to avoid getting hit by an unexpected opening of a door. This can lead to a really bad injury.
Riding on the sidewalk
Riding on the street is actually the safest place to ride a bike as long as it is done correctly as vehicles are expecting to see the bicycles on the street. Bicycles on sidewalks move fast and people backing out of their driveways cannot always see the bicyclist fast enough to stop. People can walk out from behind vehicles in the path of the bicycle that is on the sidewalk etc. Regardless of where the child rides (sidewalk or road) the child should always be supervised.
- Children under 10 are probably safer if they were to ride on the sidewalk as they are not mature enough to ride on the road and to follow the rules.
- Check the law in your state to make sure that sidewalk riding is allowed.
- Watch for vehicles coming out of their driveways, even if they are not moving if you see lights on the vehicle or the vehicle is running its best not to go behind the vehicle.
- Always stop at the corners before crossing the street and walk your bike across the street but only after practicing safe crossing techniques which are Stop, Look and Listen and Repeat!
- Never cross where there is not a crosswalk, stop sign, stop light etc. Never Ever cross between cars as you will probably not be seen.
For more information on Bicycle Safety please look at www.nhtsa.gov