Most American adults know how to ride a bike, and they use their common sense to stay safe when they are navigating traffic. What few adults know and understand, however, is how to effectively impart bike safety knowledge to their kids.
There are many things that adults instinctively know and understand that children don’t. This is not the fault of the children — it’s just that they don’t have the appropriate experience and frame of reference to understand these important issues. This is why parents need to be especially careful, through repetition and reinforcement, to teach their children well when it comes to bike safety.
Important bike safety facts to tell your children again and again
Parents should teach their kids the following things about bike safety again and again:
Your bike is a vehicle: Make sure your child understands that — even though it’s pedal-powered — his or her bicycle is a vehicle, just like a car. In this respect, your child must follow all of the rules of the road just like a motor vehicle driver does.
Teach your kids to perform a pre-ride safety check: Tell your kids to perform a pre-ride safety check like an airplane pilot does. Helmet? Check. Brakes? Check. Steering? Check. Headlight? Check. Taillight? Check. Tires have air? Check. Create a safety checklist and teach your child to run through it every time he or she plans to go for a ride.
Always use a helmet — no exceptions: It’s a legal requirement for children to wear a bicycle helmet, but that might not be enough to convince your child that it’s “cool.” Make sure he or she understands that a helmet will dramatically increase the chances of survival in a dangerous collision, and teach him or her how to properly and snugly fit the helmet.
Adjust your bike to make it fit: Teach your child what a properly fitted bike feels like. Particularly with regard to the seat height, show him or her the correct sizing.
Teach your child the rules of the road: As longtime drivers and bike riders, parents know and understand the rules of the road on an instinctive level. Children need to learn these rules directly. They also may need regular reinforcement from parents as parents ride alongside them. Teaching your children like this will help them be safer bicyclists and drivers for the rest of their lives.
Was your child hurt in a bicycle crash?
Regardless of the circumstances — even if it appears that a child was at fault in his or her bike crash — parents of children hurt in bike accidents may want to investigate their child’s legal rights and options. In some cases, the family will have a viable action that can be pursued in civil court.