Cycling, an interesting activity, is absolutely beneficial for children’s health and social interaction. However, before you let your child pull his bike out of the garage, make sure they know how to stay safe on two wheels.
- Choose where to practice
In the first period, you should choose a traffic-free place where kids can practice safely. Motorcycle and car drivers sometimes do not look for bicycles coming down the street at intersections or driveways, so a crash is unavoidable. Find a large, flat and paved area for your child. Some suggestions can be a sidewalk, park path, an empty tennis/ basketball court, or empty parking lot.
- Wear a bike helmet every time you ride!
One of the smartest things you can do to keep your kid safe on a bicycle is to ensure they always wear a helmet. Helmets can protect the wearer from what could have been a nasty injury. According to The Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, using cycle helmets help reduce the number of head injuries up to 85 percent, especially 88 percent reduction in brain injuries. So as a parent, you don’t want your child riding a bicycle without one, even on your block, the sidewalk or a park path. Remember to instruct them to wear the helmet in the right way.
Equip your child with other proper safety gear as well, such as a set of knee or elbow pads. Ensure that each time your child practices with his/her bike, they are wearing their safety gear.
- Respect traffic signals.
Not being forced to have a driving license like an adult, your child must know some basic transportation rules to save themselves. Teach young children to stop, look left, look right at all stop signs and traffic lamps before crossing. In the first times of practicing, kids must carefully look and listen to be sure no cars appear to coming before entering a street. Use your driveway or sidewalk to demonstrate this way to enter a street. Explain to them that the green light allows traffic to proceed, the yellow indication is a warning signal that is about to change to red, and the red signal prohibits any traffic from proceeding.
Further, it is vital to instruct your child when they can walk their bikes through an intersection. Remind them always ride to the right side and obey traffic rules even if no one is coming. This teaches them good habits.
- Stay away from the dark
It is never safe for your child to ride a bike at dusk or after dark. Remember that night riding requires special skills and equipment that most young bicyclists do not have. Therefore, it could be dangerous to let children on the road alone. If your kid has to ride at night, you or another adult should ride along. You can also put a light on the front and a red or yellow reflector on the back of the bicycle to make it visible for drivers to see your child’s bike at night.
- Use appropriate hand signals
Some think that hand signals may cause their child to confuse and lose control of their bikes, but that is totally wrong. Proper hand signals are an important communication link between cyclists and motorists. Many bike-car accidents involving in children occur when they ride against traffic without any signal. Any child who does not have essential skills to use hand signals should not be riding on the street. Do not forget the better children are at riding, the less likely they are to crash.
- Take care of their bikes.
Teach your child to preserve his/her bicycle carefully as well as some safety gear. Remind kids not to throw them around because that could damage the bike and safety equipment and they will not be protected well. If young children fall down, make sure you put that bike to the test (the brakes, wheels, tyres, seat, etc). It may not work as well after a major crash.