Safe Biking for Kids
By Joan Whetzel
Every Christmas, bikes by the thousands find their way under the Christmas trees. After that, whenever the weather is beautiful, sunny days, kids love to get out on their bikes. With the start of each new school year, kids can be found on their bikes riding to and from school. WIth all those kids on bikes, accidents are bound to happen, and no parent (or grandparent) wants to rush their kid the Emergency Room with a bike related injury. So before the kids fly off down the road, it's a good idea to remind them of the safety rules or bicycle riders.
Safety Helmets and Bike Maintenance
Begin by running a maintenance and safety check on your child's bike. Make sure the tires are securely in place, the seat and handle bars are adjusted to the child's height, and that the brakes work and that the chain is tightened so that it doesn't slip off. Next make sure they always wear a helmet while riding to protect them from head injuries. There are plenty of attractive new styles and colors sure to appeal to children and young adults of all ages, in all sizes.
Rules of the Road
1. Teach your kids the rules of the roadand how to ride safely in the neighborhood or when crossing streets. In general, they should be aware of traffic and that they should watch for cars before crossing the street - at the corner. Children should not dart out into the street, since drivers may not spot them in time to stop.
2. They should watch for pedestrians. This is especially important for children under the age of 10, who should be riding on the sidewalk, for safety reasons and because of the small size of the children and their bikes (it's hard to see something that small riding in the street, from the driver's point of view). They should also be aware of other children playing in their front yards, in case those children suddenly dart out in front of them. Teach them how to watch out for others and how to slow down or avoid accidents.
3. Teach them the correct hand signals so that they can make driver's aware of their intended actions.
- · Left Turn: left arm straight out to the side.
- · Right Turn: (a) left arm extended out from the side and bent upward at the elbow; (b) right arm straight out to the side.
- · Stopping: left arm extended out from the side and bent downward at the elbow.
Bike Safety and the Police Department
For further safety rules, check with your local Police Department. Many have bicycle safety rules on their website. If not, stop in and see if they offer bicycle safety classes for kids, then sign your kids up. While you're there, fill out a bicycle registration form that provides the descriptive information for your children's bikes and bring pictures of those bikes as well. Registering their bikes with the police department may well help them locate their bikes, should they be stolen.
Keeping kids, and their bikes, safe is a top priority for parents. Bicycle and biking safety checks will help everyone enjoy the wonderful bike riding weather every year.
Bike Smart: A Bicycle Safety Program for Children in Grades K-3
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