family & parenting resources

Safer Cycling

Every year, about 300,000 kids end up in an emergency department because of bicycle injuries; some of these result in death, usually from head injuries. So, whether bicycle season in your area is just getting underway or already in full swing, it’s worth taking the time to be sure your kids can ride safely – and that they do so every time.

Make sure the bike is the right size; when your child stands straddling the bike, there should be 1 to 3 inches of space between the child and the cross bar. Make the necessary adjustments to seat and handlebar height before they take off.

Check that the bike is working safely. Be sure the brakes work and that the handlebars, seat and tires are tightened. Keep the chain oiled. Check that the tires are properly inflated.

Require your child to wear a helmet and wear it correctly. Helmet laws from state to state vary, but the laws of common sense are pretty clear: Protect your child’s head from crippling or fatal injury.

Ensure that your child can be seen. The bike should be equipped with reflectors; your child’s helmet and clothing should be brightly colored and trimmed with reflective tape.

Teach kids the rules of the road. Children under 10 should never ride in the street. If your older kids are going to be riding in the street, they must know and obey traffic laws. Making mistakes on the road is the most common cause of injury and death to kids on bikes.

Make sure your kids know to keep the bike under their control – see that they use a carrier or backpack when transporting things so they can keep their hands on the handlebars.

Warn them to keep an eye out for road hazards: glass, potholes, broken pavement, car doors, pedestrians and dogs are just a few that can cause a spill.

Resources:
http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/bike_safety.html
http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/ee/ed_child_main.htm
Instructions for fitting a helmet:
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/EasyStepsWeb/index.htm

Kids:
Be your own “pit crew”. Print out and color a checklist of the things to tighten, oil and inflate, and things to take care of before you hit the road.

Did you know:
The first bicycle was made of wood and had no pedals. It was designed to help a person to WALK faster. It was called a “velocipede”, which translates to “fast foot”.