June 3rd is World Bicycle Day! On this day, and every day, we want kids and families to stay injury-free while riding bikes.
Review these rules for a safe ride every time
More and more bikes have been dusted off and taken to the roads in the last several weeks as people are looking for socially-distanced activities outside the home. Biking and other wheeled sports – skateboarding, scooter riding and rollerblading – can make for excellent exercise and family time, but make sure to help kids brush up on some safety measures before setting off on their adventures.
“As we head into summer, it’s a great time to talk with kids about outdoor safety of all kinds, biking included,” said Corri Miller-Hobbs, registered nurse and Safe Kids Virginia program coordinator. “With schools closed, kids have had more time to learn how to ride, or gain increased independence, on their bicycles. While this is wonderful, we strongly encourage parents to take a few moments and teach kids about the importance of riding responsibly.”
Protect your noggin with a proper helmet
A properly-fitted helmet is the best way to prevent a head injury in the event of a crash. Make sure each family member has a helmet that is the right size for them and that they wear it on every ride. Helmets should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards.
The same helmet can safely be worn for bicycling, scooter riding or roller skating. Skateboarding and long boarding require unique head protection. If your child participates in these activities, be sure to get them a CPSC certified skateboarding helmet.
A helmet isn’t effective unless it fits and is worn properly. The Safe Kids helmet fit test uses the eyes, ears and mouth to confirm the correct position and a snug, comfortable fit.
Watch Corri Miller-Hobbs explain here
Tune-up before you travel
Is each bicycle in good working order? Check that the brakes are working, tires are properly inflated, gears shift smoothly and reflectors are secure before riding.
It’s also important to ensure your child’s bike is the right size. It can be tempting to buy a bike they can grow into, but this can be dangerous. Your child’s feet should be able to touch the ground when sitting on the bicycle seat.
If you’re riding in the early morning or evening, use lights and reflectors to help drivers see you. Reflective clothing is also a great idea.
Teach the rules of the road
Kids should be actively supervised until you’re comfortable they are responsible enough to ride on their own. Every child is different, but developmentally, it can be hard for kids to judge speed and distance of cars until age 10, so limit riding to sidewalks, parks or bike paths until then.
When making the transition to riding on the road, review and practice the following rules:
- Stay alert, watch for cars
- Make eye contact with drivers and make sure they’re stopping before you cross the street
- Always cross at intersections
- Stop at stop signs and follow other traffic signals – look left, right and left again before crossing
- Ride on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic – stay as far right as possible
- Be predictable – ride in a straight line and use hand signals to let others know what you plan to do
Make a fashion statement – a safe one!
In this case it’s not about what the clothes look like, but rather their function.
- Make sure there’s nothing that could get caught in the bike chain or wheels – this includes loose clothing, shoelaces or event backpack strapsWear bright colors and reflective clothing
- Sneakers are the safest choice for footwear – never ride in flip flops or barefoot!
- Don’t wear headphones while riding
- It can’t be said enough – ALWAYS wear a helmet
Be a good role model
The best way to reinforce safe riding is to model it yourself. Wear a helmet (even if you didn’t when you were a kid!) and follow all safety rules on every ride.
Find more tips on keeping kids safe on the road, at home and at play.