Back to school time – pencils, books, new clothes, and kids on bikes. While bike riding is an excellent form of exercise for kids, it can also be dangerous. Biking to school involves much more skill and attention than walking. Here are some bicycle safety tips to be aware of during this busy time of year.
- Inspect Your Child’s Bike
Back to school is a good time to give your child’s bike a safety inspection. You’ll want to look over the brakes, wheel alignment, seat, handlebars, pedals, tires, axle nuts and bearings and chain. If needed, replace, tighten or adjust bike components so that your child has a safe bike to ride. Or you can visit Calabazas Cyclery located at 6140 Bollinger Rd. and have a bike inspection performed by trained and certified staff. (Calabazas Cyclery is a great family owned Bike shop located in the Orchard Farm Shopping Center here in District 1). Mention this newsletter and receive a FREE bike inspection.
- Insist on a Helmet
They may not be the most comfortable or fashionable item, but helmets are essential to safe bike riding. Head injury is the leading cause of death in cycling accidents, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that proper use of helmets by kids ages 4 to 15 would prevent around 45,000 head injuries annually. Insist that your child wear a helmet when riding!
- Ride Smart
Teach your child to choose the best route to a destination. For instance, avoid busy roads when there are quieter routes to the same place. If possible, ride on bike paths. Always observe stop signs (even if no other vehicle is visible), yield signs and other traffic markers. Use extra caution when passing driveways and entrances to businesses and housing developments and when riding in parking lots. Encourage him or her to walk their bike across busy intersections.
- Signal Your Intentions
Teach your child to use proper hand signals to alert others of his or her intentions:
Left turn: left hand and arm held straight out, pointing left.
Right turn: left hand and arm held straight up or right arm held straight out, pointing right.
Stop: left hand and arm held straight down.
- Road Safety
Talk with your child about basic road safety when riding a bike. For instance, teach your child to ride with (not against) traffic and on the right side of the road. Ride with someone else if possible, and always ride single file. Never attempt to ride on the handlebars of someone else’s bike or invite a friend to try riding on your bike while you’re driving it
- Reflect on It
Encourage your child not to ride their bike when it’s not daylight out. If they do not need to ride in the early morning or evening hours, make sure his their bike is equipped with reflectors. Wearing neon, bright or reflective clothing is a good idea as well, as is a headlight for the bike.
Each year, there are 800 bicycle related deaths in the United States, as well as a half million bicycle related injuries resulting in emergency room visits. With education, proper training and Bike maintenance you can help your child avoid becoming a statistic.