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Bicycle Safety Resources for Parents
Cycling is an excellent habit for children to learn, and the best way for them to learn is by the example of good parents. We hope you find these resources useful as you teach your children, other family members, or friends how to be safe in transit.
In addition to the safety tips and resources below, we’ve also created the micrographic to the right to address some myths of the road regarding bicycle safety among children. Please share this graphic on Pinterest, Facebook, or your blog to spread the word! It’s so important and we want to make sure parents and children alike are aware of their responsibilities as cyclists in keeping themselves and their loved ones safe on the road.
Wear a Helmet!
Not only is it crucial for children to wear a properly fitted helmet while cycling (or doing other similar activities). It is essential for children to learn this by example of their parents. If parents do not wear helmets, the importance of doing so will be lost on these children. The old adage ‘do as I say, not as I do’ most certainly does not translate to the situation of bicycle safety.
It is important that children learn how to properly wear their helmet. Too often, children (and frequently even adults) wear their helmet too loosely and even too far back on their head. A loose helmet is virtually useless, as it will shift in case of an accident and possibly even increase the damage done to the head upon impact. The helmet should be tight, but not choke. Also make sure that it is sufficiently forward on the head so as to protect the forehead as well as the back of the head.
Use Age-Appropriate Rules of the Road
When children are first learning to ride a bicycle, they frequently use training wheels. This is important as they gradually learn to control a bicycle. Remember, however, that the ‘training wheels’ concept should be applied in other aspects as well. When children are small, especially, they should ride their bicycles on a sidewalk, not in the street, and teach them the “rules of the road” when it comes to riding on the sidewalk. Cyclists on the road must obey traffic laws just like cars, and small children simply do not have the maturity to adhere to, let alone remember, the many traffic laws which govern road cyclists.
As children grow up and reach their pre-teen and teen years, it will be appropriate for them to learn traffic laws governing road cyclists, and will even prepare them to learn to drive a car (and make it less traumatic for both of you). Ride with your children and these times as teaching moments to instill a respect for the road and other cyclists and motorists on the road.
Until they reach that age, however, sidewalk cyclists will typically follow pedestrian laws, with only a couple exceptions.
When the child cyclist desires to overtake bipedal (or quadrupedal) pedestrians,she must signal using a bicycle signal bell or horn that she desires to overtake the pedestrian(s), and then safely move around them (slow down if necessary).
When at a cross-walk or intersection, the pedestrian cyclist must also dismount to cross the street. Make sure to look both ways, and if a vehicle is at the intersection and is waiting, make eye contact with the driver to ensure they have seen you and acknowledge your presence.
Image Courtesy of Christensen & Hymas
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