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7 Ways to Keep Kids Safe on Bikes

May 15 2014 - 4:32am

Now that the weather has warmed up, kids are trading in their sleds for bicycles. An amazing Spring pastime, bike riding is a great way for children to exercise and for families to bond. But it is also a high-risk activity. Every year, thousands of people are brought to the hospital for bike-related injuries, with children accounting for 60 percent of the patients [1]. As much as we want our kids to get up and move, we want them to be smart about it. So before your tot puts the pedal to the metal (or, more accurately, the concrete), make sure they know these safety tips.

Source: Flickr user woolner [2]

Have the Proper Headgear

A helmet is not an accessory — it's a necessity every time your child hops onto a bike. It's not only important that they wear the protective headgear, but also that it fits properly. To make sure their helmet is the right fit, follow the eye, ear, and mouth rule:

Eye: You should be able to place two fingers between the rim of the helmet and your child's eyebrows.

Ear: The straps should form a "Y" underneath your child's ears.

Mouth: When the helmet is secure, your child should be able to comfortably open their mouth.

Source: Flickr user slobikelanes [3]

Dress to Impress

A helmet is not the only thing your child must wear when hitting the road. In order to avoid any clothes getting caught in the bike chain or on the pedals, your child should avoid wearing loose pants. As far as footwear goes, sneakers are the only acceptable option. Sandals, cleats, or bare feet prevent kids from properly gripping the pedals and controlling their movement.

Source: Flickr user sfbike [4]

Be Aware of Surroundings

Whether your child is riding along the sidewalk or in the streets, they need to be extra cautious of what lies ahead — and we aren't just talking about speeding cars. Wet leaves, puddles, and sand can cause your child's bike to skid and fall over, taking them down with it. Tell your child to slow down when they come across these areas, or try to avoid them altogether.

Source: Flickr user theoelliot [5]

Act Like a Driver

If your child is ready to transition from the sidewalk to the streets, make sure they know the rules of the road. This means they must drive with the traffic — never against it — and follow all the traffic lights, signals, and signs that the cars do. Think of this as a test run for their license.

Source: Flickr user ubrayj02 [6]

Know the Biker's Code

Since your child's bike lacks blinkers, it is important that they master the bike hand signals [7] before they ride on the road.

Source: Flickr user slobikelane [8]

Stay in Single File

There's safety in numbers, but there is also the danger of kids riding too close to cars or each other. Remind your child and their friends to stay in single file to minimize the risk of swerves and skids.

Source: Flickr user gregraisman [9]

Tend to Their Bike

Bikes are bound to go through a bit of wear and tear with each ride. Before your child heads out, make sure to tighten the seat, handlebars, and wheels. It is also important to make sure the seat is no more than three inches from the front bar. This will give your child better control over the bike and help protect them in the case of a crash. Every two weeks, oil the chain and pump air into the tires to ensure your child has the safest ride.

Source: Flickr user slobikelanes [10]

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