BIKING SAFETY TIPS FOR KIDS

You can talk to your children for hours about keeping safe on the road, whether walking or cycling, but the only way they will learn is in a real traffic environment.  Start teaching them about the dangers of traffic as soon as they are able to walk.  Take your toddler for short walks, insist he holds you hand and talk to him about the cars, buses, trucks and bikes.  Show him where it is safe to cross the road.  Teach him about pedestrian crossings and how to use them.  As he gets older, you can explain the meaning of road signs and how traffic lights control the traffic.

HELMETS AND REFLECTIVE GEAR

In the United States alone, over 500,000 children are injured in cycle accidents each year.  Many of these injuries could be avoided if parents insisted that their children wear helmets when riding a bike.  When buying a helmet for your child, it is vital that you buy one that actually fits.  An ill-fitting helmet can actually cause more damage than no helmet at all.  It mustn’t tilt forwards or backwards and must sit straight and level on the head.  It must fasten with a wide chin strap and must be tight enough so the helmet won’t swivel round.  It is also important that it meets with proper safety standards.

Dress your child in bright or fluorescent light weight clothing and ensure they are wearing a reflective cycling vest or some type of reflective gear to improve road visibility.  Add some reflective tape to their helmet and to their bike to maximise visibility to other road users.  If they are wearing pants, ensure they can’t get caught in the chain.  Choose shoes that will grip the pedals and never let you child ride barefoot.

BIKE MAINTENANCE

When your child is little, let him watch you check over his bike before he rides it.  As he gets older, he will automatically check the tyre pressures, brakes, bearings, wheels, pedals and chains before he starts his ride. Teach him to investigate any rattles and lubricate the cables and chain every week.  Most importantly, instil into your child that if there is a problem with the bike, then don’t ride it until it has been fixed by a professional.

LEARNING BY EXAMPLE

Children are like sponges.  They learn by example, so ensure that you set them a good example to follow when it comes to road safety, wearing protective gear and keeping your bike well maintained.  Encourage them to take pride in a well maintained bike.