Bike Safety Tips

By Juliane Kristine Morris

Like anything else, things change, and bike safety has changed a bit too.  Practicing safety as a bike rider covers a lot of territory­—the physics of speed and stopping, the readiness of biking equipment, and always: being aware of your surroundings and having your surroundings be aware of you!  Follow these child bike safety tips to help ensure a happy and healthy ride.

Perform a safety check.  For a bike that has been sitting out of use for a long time, a bike tune-up may be a good idea since the pros know what to look for and can address issues that may need a fix.  Check to be sure tires are fully inflated.  Try out the brakes before getting on the bike by wheeling the bike forward and evaluating each brake.  Be sure the bike chain is properly engaging with the gears as it cycles a turn or two.

Determine your safe bike ride route or area.  Streets of quiet, rarely driven neighborhoods have long been considered ideal, but knowing what is safe has to do with understanding a child’s ability.  If you’re considering a ride on a more trafficked bike route, can the child independently start, ride and stop the bike in a straight line?  Share with someone close to you where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Conduct a personal safety check.  Your checklist should include a well-fitting and secure bike helmet, highly visible clothing, no loose fabric, straps, laces that could get caught in the mechanics of a bike.  Be sure bike riders are in the right frame of mind, have enough reserves to enjoy exerting energy, and are ready to be attentive.  Take some water if someone might become thirsty on your ride.

Leave surprises for birthdays, not bike rides.  When you bike ride in a predictable way, then walkers, car drivers and other bike riders have fewer accidents.  Unfortunately, collisions with others happen when a rider may suddenly and unexpectedly sway or stop the bike.  Hand signals can share bike riding intentions, and parents who model such hand signals and predictable riding help their children learn bike safety, the importance of predictability and of being seen by others.  Ride with the direction of traffic, obey all traffic signals and use a bell or loud voice to communicate bike riding intentions with others as needed.

HAPPY WHEELING!

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