by Helen Colella
The Lyons Recorder
It’s a beautiful day and the kids are home from school - a perfect time for a family bike ride. But before you and the kids rush out and start pedaling, there’s another factor other than the weather that you need to consider – safety. And it has to start at an early age because children start cycling when they are very young. Think back…Remember when you were a toddler who struggled in learning how to pedal the tricycle in the driveway or up and down the sidewalk in front of your house?
Remember when you struggled as a youngster in trying to keep your balance on the bicycle and your mom or dad running along side holding the back of the bike seat?
Remember how thrilled and excited you were with every success?
Now it’s your child’s turn to undergo many of the same experiences and feelings as he learns to ride a bike and enjoy this favorite fun of children of all ages (you).
Before you know it, the bike will move from being a toy to a mode of transportation—to get to school, a friends house, or maybe even for delivering newspapers. It will provide him with a sense of freedom and increased fun, whether with the family or his friends.
His increasing independence will make it necessary that you both become more aware of the bicycle, its maintenance, and the rules of safety surrounding its use before you head out on a family day wheelin’ about the neighborhood or around the local park.
Bike riding is a lot of fun, but accidents happen. Every year, about 176,000 kids go to the emergency room because of bike accident injuries, some of which are so serious that children die, usually from head injuries. You can see then how the attitudes you, the parent, instill in him from a young age will determine how they will ride for years to come. Taking time to teach him the rules and how to care for his bike will set the groundwork for a lifetime of enjoyment, healthy exercise and possible competition.
Here are a few safety tips to keep your child safe and you from worrying:
- Wear an approved safety helmet to protect your head and brain from injury. Every approved helmet has a dense lining made to absorb the energy upon impact. The straps and buckle keep the helmet in place.
- Try to keep your bike in good shape. Keep the parts clean, lubricated. Make sure brakes work. Check pedals, spokes tires regularly; make needed repairs promptly. Be sure headlight works and that reflectors are in place and visible from 500 ft. away: amber on front - red on rear.
- Laws are the same for cars and bikes, so learn all traffic regulations and keep bike under control.
- Stop, look, and listen before entering the street from a sidewalk, driveway, or alley. Check traffic at all corners and always let cars and people go first.
- Learn and use hand signals. Keep both hands on the handle bars except when doing turn signals.
- Don’t ride at night unless necessary, then be sure to wear something white and turn on your lights. Keep off busy streets; don’t ride in and out of traffic or in between two cars.
- Don’t do stunts or hitch rides with moving cars. Never ride double, only one person on the bike at a time. If you’re riding with a group, ride in a row – one behind the other.
If these tips are mastered you and your child can truly enjoy the benefits of cycling on that beautiful day when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’re looking for something fun to do.