Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
Riding bikes to school is different than it was years ago. Safety issues have changed, and recommendations have been updated. Before you send your child off to school or out on his own, make sure you are up to date with the current bike safety sanctions.
We all know bike helmets are a necessity, but how many of us enforce that rule for our children. Furthermore, how many of us actually wear helmets when we ride? If you knew it could prevent a life-threatening injury, would you be inspired to wear a helmet? Make sure your children always have their helmet on, and make sure they are wearing a helmet that properly fits. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides guidelines for a properly fitting helmet.
Bicycles should be the proper size and adjusted correctly for your child. There should be a slight bend in the knee when her leg is extended fully. The handlebars should be set at the same height as the seat.
Brakes and tires should be checked frequently. If your child doesn’t carry a repair kit with him, make sure he has the means to contact you should his bike get a flat tire.
The proper clothing should be worn when riding a bike. Clothing should make the rider visible to cars on the road. Wearing the proper shoes is essential to bike safety, as well as the proper clothing. Clothes that are loose or hang down risk getting caught in the spokes and can endanger your child.
Make sure your children know the riding rules. They should ride in the bike lane or on the sidewalk on the same side of the road as traffic. Both hands should be on the handlebars at all times, except when making a signal. Children should refrain from wearing headphones while they are riding and should be aware of their surroundings. Parked cars can start moving, and cars coming out of their driveways may not notice a bike rider.
Traffic laws apply to bicyclists, and you and your children should make yourselves familiar with the bike safety laws in your state. According to the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, each state has a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator who can help with questions pertaining to the specific states. You can find the list of Coordinators at the link below:
State Coordinators Bicycle and Pedestrian