Bicycling is a fun, healthy summer activity that the whole family can join in on. One of my favorite memories as a kid was riding my bicycle on the trails with my family. To this day, I still enjoy taking my bike out for a spin. But bicycling can be dangerous for kids if they are not taught how to bike safely. That’s why we’re here to offer you a few reminders before sending them on their merry (helmeted) way:
• Understand their limitations – Children do not have the same cognitive abilities that adult riders do.
o They cannot use their peripheral vision as adults do.
o They do not naturally use sound to identify the direction from which traffic is coming.
o They rely solely on their vision.
o They cannot grasp the complexity of many traffic situations.
o Children are easily distracted and cannot control impulses well.
o Children will depend on adults to keep them safe.
• Know their abilities – Each child and each age group have different abilities.
• Set the rules – Begin pointing out the rules of the road immediately, even if they are just a passenger on your bike. Some essential rules are:
o Ride in the same direction as traffic.
o Obey all traffic laws.
o Stop and look both ways before entering traffic.
o Walk your bike across busy intersections.
o Watch for cars entering the road from driveways or parking spots.
o Use hand signals and look all directions before turning.
o Ride predictably – do not swerve suddenly.
o Ride single file on the right.
o Never ride at night or at dusk. If you’re out late, call for a ride.
o Wear bright colored clothing.
o Never wear headphones or eat while riding.
o Put anything you need to carry in a backpack so your hands are free.
o Always keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
o Do not let anyone ride on your bike.
o Don’t do something just because your friends are.
o Always wear a helmet.
• Get the right equipment.
o Make sure the bike and helmet fit properly.
o Equip the bike with front and rear lights, reflectors for pedals and wheels and a bell or horn.
• Do regular safety checks.