Bike safety for kids is crucial for avoiding accidents. According to kidshealth.org, 300,000 kids go to the emergency room each year because of bike injuries. That’s a whole lot of scrapes, strains, broken bones and bumps. Approximately 10,000 of those children have injuries requiring them to stay overnight, and others cause deaths. Here’s what to teach your child to minimize the risk.
Always wear a helmet.
Biking related deaths are usually due to head injuries. This means damage was done to the brain. Helmets protect the head, face and head. Make sure your child’s helmet fits properly. It shouldn’t be too loose or too tight. Visit a bike store for help if you are unsure of fit. It should be worn level, covering the forehead and with the strap fastened. Hats should never be worn under helmets. It is important the device have the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker of approval. Make it a rule that your child may not ride the bike, even just in the driveway, without a helmet.
Make sure the bike is the right size.
Riding a bike that is the correct size is important for safety. There should be between one and three inches of space between your child and the top bar. Your child should be able to just put their feet on the ground when straddling the bike.
Do safety checks.
Give the bicycle a look before each ride. Inspecting safety features will only take a minute and could save your child from a nasty spill. Teach riders to look for these things themselves, as well.
- Handlebars, wheels and seats should all be secure.
- Check to make sure chain is in good shape. Oil it regularly.
- Make sure brakes work and don’t stick.
- Check tires for air pressure, leaks and damage.
Wear appropriate clothes.
Riders should wear bright, reflective clothing and sneakers. They should avoid loose clothes that could get caught, flip flops and sandals. Headphones should not be worn, as it makes it difficult to hear traffic. Bikes should never be used barefoot.
Establish when and wear to ride.
Daytime riding is safest. If your child will be riding in the dark, make sure their bike has reflectors. They should avoid large puddles, gravel, loose sand, wet leaves, slower bikers (such as smaller children), curbs and uneven terrains, as it is easy to lose control in these situations. Bike lanes should be used whenever possible. Ride in the same direction as traffic and follow all traffic rules, such as topping at stop signs.
Bike safety for kids is important to teach from a young age, especially if children will ride to school. If your child will be riding without you, make sure they carry a cell phone for emergencies.