How to Teach Your Child About Bike Safety
Your goal: have your child grab a helmet with a smile, get on the bike, pedal a few times and test the brakes before reaching the road where they are traffic-aware. Here’s how.
Make wearing helmets easy. Hang them right next to the garage door. If the bikes stand when stored, then helmets can hang on the handle bars. No helmet, no bike. Make it a hard and fast rule. As a parent, wear your helmet. Let kids pick colors for theirs. Tell stories of helmets saving lives in crashes. If a child rides bear headed, lock the bike up for a week.
Extra gear encourages a cyclist “look”. The look always includes a helmet. Gear is expensive so this tact is not for everyone. Jerseys, bike shorts, and bike gloves are among the assortment. You could put photos of “real” cyclists (who wear helmets) up somewhere near your bikes.
Safety tip: Helmets are made for one crash. Throw a helmet out after any head impact.
A Bike In Good Working Order
Start with you. Make a “parking spot” for bikes. Purchase an air pump. Pump up the tires yourself a few times. We bought an air pump with a gauge and instructed our children not to let the neighborhood children use it. Inadvertently, we gave immediate importance to all facets of bike safety. We pumped up a lot of neighbor’s tires ourselves!
Safety tip: Adjust your child seat so that it is hip high.
Ask your child to grab their helmet because you want to see them ride. As soon as they are pedaling, tell them to brake. Then ask how the tires feel, to raise their awareness. Remind them to always brake once before they reach the road. If your house is on a hill brake in the garage. Don’t test breaks when you need them! Most people hear or feel flat tires. Hence, the pump.
Keep very young riders off the road. Give them the safety of a circle, empty parking lot or park with supervision. When the rare car comes along shout ‘Get to the side.” to your child. It will become a reflex for them.
Get ready for the road. Walk a bike on the “right side”. Look over your left shoulder to check traffic. Now, let your beginner practice while riding. Watch for swerving when they glance over their shoulder. Do you have several riders? Set a single file order. No passing! Plan to pull over to the side when a car passes if practical.
Safety tip: Never let your child shoot out your driveway (its downhill and really fast) into traffic.
Road safety is HUGE. This is just awareness!
A safe, happy, ready bike and rider are waiting for you (likely impatiently).