Bike riding is one of the most popular sports for kids. And yet it’s always surprising how many kids get injured while riding.
Bicycle safety for kids is more than just wearing a helmet. It’s teaching your kids how to navigate streets, where to find the right spots to ride safely and how to navigate crowded areas.
There’s nothing as nerve wracking as the first time your kid packs a pb&j and heads out with their neighborhood friends to explore the neighborhood on wheels (well, maybe the first time they out driving in a car, or miss their first curfew, or head off to college, but stick with me people!).
As parents, what can we do to ensure that our kids ride safely?
The #1 injury deterrent is a bike helmet.
Yet, many kids still aren’t wearing them.
In a recent study published in the Accident Analysis and Prevention journal noted in this article featured on CBS News, kids 10-14 account for about half of all injuries. Injuries can be anything from cuts and bruises to broken bones and concussions.
And guess what?
It turns out kids ages 10-14 have a tendency to NOT wear helmets. HOW SAFE IS BICYCLING? Wheeled Sports Safety Graphic
So what can we do to ensure that our kids are ready to take to the hills without us? It turns out there are a few things we can do to ensure bicycle safety for kids.
BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL – wear a helmet and ride safely
Wearing a helmet and practicing safe riding helps your kids years later. IF they’ve always seen you wearing a helmet, they’re less likely to argue with you about wearing one. It becomes as regular as wearing a uniform for a game or bringing their backpack to school.
When you’re out riding with your child, respect the road.
That means stopping at STOP signs and yielding to traffic lights.
Modeling respect for cars is important.
Before crossing any street, look left then look right and then look left again.
Cross at the crosswalk.
NEVER wear earphones.
2. LET THEM PICK OUT THEIR HELMET
Helmets come in all sorts of shapes and sizes now. From ones that show a fun mohawk to more traditional styles, there are options for every personality. Giving your child the opportunity to select their own is a great way of encouraging them to wear a helmet. If they like it, they’re more likely to wear it!
What if it’s too expensive? We’ve been there.
Before you head to the store or online, provide your child with your budget and explain how you came up with that number. Most kids know small numbers by age 4 or 5, so this is a good way to help them recognize larger ones, as well as get introduced to smart spending, marketing ploys and being a good consumer.
3. DECORATE THEIR BIKE WITH LIGHTS & REFLECTIVE STICKERS
One of the great things about living in this age of excess is the ability to get, like, everything. So, spend a few bucks and get some glow in the dark stickers, a light for the front or back and some reflective options to personalize their wheels or frame. These items will help your little rider be seen should they happen to be riding after dusk.
4. KNOW YOUR KID! Some need more safety gear than others
Every family has one. The kid that’s going to try riding on the railing or making some jumps. This kid is less likely to wear safety gear, so getting him (or her) into the habit earlier is better. For these kids, we recommend:
- Long sleeve shirts and pants while riding
- Sneakers instead of sandals or bare feet
- Elbow pads
- Knee pads
5. TEACH THEM HAND SIGNALS
According to SafeKids.org, Hand signals are necessary as they are the way a bike rider can communicate with a car driver. Share this infographic with your child and practice signaling. These hand signals also come in handy when your car’s lights are on the fritz.
6. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Yeah, we mentioned long sleeves, long pants and appropriate footwear above for kids that are a bit more danger-prone. We know that it’s unlikely that most kids are going to wear longer gear, especially when it’s hot outside.
But, no matter what the weather, kids can – and should – wear bright clothes. Bicycle safety for kids is more than just helmets and injury prevention devices. It’s also about attracting attention so that drivers and other bike riders see them coming. It’s easy to miss someone wearing black at dusk. It’s less difficult to spot someone wearing a neon yellow top. For that reason, wearing bright clothes is better than wearing dark clothes when riding.
Riding a bike is a right of passage and kids all over the country ride safely every day. As parents, the best way to help your kids ride safely is to have them wear appropriate safety gear, have knowledge of the rules of the road and hand signals, and dress appropriately. Did we miss anything? Let us know in comments below…