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Bicycle Safety 101

The day is warm and clear- the perfect condition for kids to go out bicycle riding. There’s a few things to keep in mind before letting the kids out to have fun with their bicycles.

Safety is extremely important because statistics show that on average 300,000 children end up in the ER every year due to lack of safety. At least 10,000 of those children end up with injuries that require lengthy stays in hospitals. Some accidents even end up in fatality. Nationwide, the statistics of bicycle accidents are rising and so are fatalities.

Here’s some basic tips that will help keep your children safer while riding bicycles!

 

Helmet:

 

It's ugly and big, but important in saving lives. One of the biggest injuries from a bicycle is centered around the head. The helmet will protect the brain and even save your child’s life. Always pick a helmet that has the CPSC sticker on it since it meets all the safety standards. Snell is also another alternative and has tougher standards than CPSC.

 

Avoid helmets with excessive vent holes and visors. The excessive air holes means less foam to take the impact in a crash. Visors can easily shatter and cause more harm in the event of an accident.

 

Get a helmet that fits your head snugly and always fasten the straps. Make sure it’s 2 finger widths from the browline and not tilted too far forward or too far back. It should be level with your browline

 

Bright colored helmets provide visibility for car drivers. The more visible you are, the more likely you are to avoid an accident!

 

Bicycle:

 

Choose a bicycle that’s the right size for your kid. Size plays a role in comfort as well as control of the bicycle. If the handlebars are too far away or the seat too high, then it’ll cause discomfort and loss of control if something happens.

 

Bicycle types also plays a role in visibility from the road as well. For example trick bikes or BMX style bikes aren’t road friendly due to their smaller wheel base, smaller body and overall lower center makes it incredibly hard for drivers to see the rider. Not only that, but a smaller wheel base makes it easier for a rider to get injured from potholes in the road.

 

Before riding, be sure to follow these steps:

 

-Make sure that the seat, handlebars and wheels fit tightly. Loose parts can cause loss of control.

-Check and oil the chain regularly. Maintaining tension on your chain’s important!

-Check your brakes to see that they’re working properly and aren’t sticking.

-Tires should be checked for air and proper pressure.

 

Visibility and Awareness:

 

Being visible is incredibly important since today’s drivers are more easily distracted. Though daytime riding is the safest time, it’s still important for a child to be wearing bright colored clothes or a bright colored vest. It will immediately draw attention and alert drivers that someone is on the road.

 

For night time riding, always make sure that the bicycle is equipped with high visibility reflectors and even lights. Always avoid dark colored clothing as well as neutral colored clothing since darkness tends to make them blend in with the surroundings.

 

Even if the child is under 10 and riding on the sidewalk- wearing bright clothing is still highly advisable.

 

When riding, be sure to secure all straps, flaps, pant cuffs and loose shoelaces. They can easily get caught in the chain and spoke of the bicycle and frequently cause accidents. Gloves can help provide extra grip if your child/teen has difficulty with maintaining grip. Recommended shoes are close toed without heels or cleats.

 

Children should avoid listening to music when riding because hearing plays an important role in safety. Crossing train tracks, crossing streets and even warning honks require full hearing in order to avoid accidents. It’s extremely common for accidents to happen because the rider was listening to music and wasn’t able to hear a train coming or a car honking. More times than not, it’s easier for a rider to hear warnings before seeing the danger.

 

Road Riding:

 

Always know where your children are riding. Though sidewalks are relatively safe for children 10 years and younger, they still need to be aware of pedestrians and cars in driveways. If your child is older than 10 and riding in the street, there’s several things they need to be aware of.

 

Basic Signals:

Here's some basic signals that your child should use when riding on the road. They let drivers know which direction your kid will be going or if they intend to stop. 

Road Rules:

-Riders need to always keep their attention ahead of them so they can visually see obstacles such as puddles, leaves, rocks, people, ect and have time to react.

-When crossing a busy intersection, your child should walk their bike across versus riding them. Bicycle riders are fairly hard to spot in mirrors and it’s not uncommon for a car to hit a cyclist when they’re crossing a street because they couldn’t see them that well.

-Always ride with hands on handlebars. Being in control is always important when it comes to avoiding accidents.

-Always stop and check for traffic when leaving a driveway, alley, ect.

-Ride in the same direction as traffic and on the right side. Despite popular notion- never ride against traffic.

-Use bicycle lanes when possible.

-Avoid being too close to parked cars since doors can open at any moment.

-Stop at all stop lights/signs and follow traffic laws. Go when the light’s green, ect.

-Always ride single file if you’re with friends and riding on the street.

-When passing, do so on the left hand side and always call it out.

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