For most children, learning to ride a bicycle and having a bicycle to call their own is a big deal. It signals a graduation from “little kid” to “big kid” not to mention provides a thrill to ride. However, for parents whose children are at the age suitable for riding a bicycle, it’s important to teach them the fundamentals of safety when pedaling around the neighborhood or over to a friend’s house.
If you haven’t ridden a bicycle in quite some time, chances are you need a refresher course on bicycle safety tips yourself. Here are the most important ones to remember, which ought to be passed onto your children before letting them loose to ride:
Wear a helmet
Wearing a properly fitted helmet is essential for safely riding a bicycle. Explain to children the importance of protecting their brain, and therefore the reason why wearing a helmet is critical. Do not hesitate to impose a punishment in the event you see your child riding a bicycle without wearing a helmet, which can be as simple as removing the bike for a set number of days.
While motorists have a responsibility to watch for cyclists, they can’t be mindful of what they can’t see. Teach your children the importance of keeping themselves within line of sight of traffic if they are riding their bicycle on a busy street. Attach reflective decals and reflective tape to their bike to make them more visible in low light conditions, and opt for bicycles painted bright colors. A brightly colored helmet also helps to make cyclists more visible to motorists, pedestrians, and others they encounter on the road.
Obey traffic laws
Children see riding a bicycle as a step towards being more grown up and mature. To this end, inform them of their responsibilities as an operator of a vehicle on a public roadway. Instruct them to obey signs, signals, and road markers when riding their bike. If your child is under the age of 10 and therefore better off riding their bicycle on the sidewalk, make sure to check local laws to ensure bike riding on the sidewalk is acceptable. Most municipalities make it a rule to allow children of a certain age to ride their bikes on the sidewalk, but eventually, it’s expected for them to shift towards the road as they grow older.
Go with the flow
This is particularly important to teach children since it’s often our first instinct to go against the flow of traffic; it’s human nature to want to see moving objects which are on a trajectory in close proximity to own, rather than feel the tension of fast objects whizzing past us from behind. However, as anyone who has driven a motor vehicle knows, it’s a nerve-wracking experience watching a kid on a bike pedal towards you, whereas it’s relatively easy to maneuver past a cyclist going in the same direction as yourself. Ensure that going with the flow of traffic becomes a habit of your bicycle riding child.
Pay attention to surroundings
The rules which apply to defensive driving and avoiding motor vehicle accidents also apply to riding a bicycle. That is to say, both drivers and riders need to be mindful of what other moving vehicles are doing, as well as what could possibly happen around parked vehicles, such as doors opening into the street and so forth. In short, it’s critical to anticipate the possibility of a collision or obstruction in the event it happens, as this provides extra time to react appropriately.
If your child is like most, they can’t wait to start riding their very own bicycle. But before you let your kid take to the street on two wheels, it’s vital to explain to her the basics of bicycle safety. It won’t eliminate the risk of an accident, but it will greatly reduce the odds.