Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kids on Bikes

What kid doesn't love his or her bicycle? For kids of a certain age bicycles represent independence. If streets are safe for bicycles, kids can rove around visiting friends, exploring the world and getting exercise. Awareness of safe bicycling and rules of the road are important if the younger among us are going to have a good bicycle experiences. Having safe, fun times on a bike as a kid can sustain interest in active transportation into adulthood.

There are several key items that kids (and everyone) needs to keep in mind when riding. First, always wear a helmet. The bike helmet wearer's mantra? May you always wear it and never need it. A well-fitted, securely worn helmet can protect the head in the event of a bicycle crash. Leaving the helmet with the bicycle when storing it after a ride is the best way to ensure that the helmet is in the right place when the rider needs it again. Most bicycle shops sell helmets right alongside their bicycle offerings.

Second, riding skills - like driving skills - are something that are learned over time and with experience. If your kids are beyond training wheels and ready to ride more freely on low-traffic city streets make sure they understand the rules of the road. Instill road safety in your bicycling youngsters. Ride with them and make sure they know to stop whenever a car is required to stop. Demonstrate left- and right-turn hand signaling for your younger riders. Encourage kids on bicycles to plan out routes to school and friends' houses that rely on low-speed, low-traffic streets avoiding speedy, traffic-y major arterials.

Third, make sure your kids' bikes work properly. That means each bicycle has brakes that grip, a seat positioned correctly and tires that are inflated. Functioning front and rear lights make riding at dusk and afterwards much safer. Help your kids to also have the right clothing for riding. Bicycling is much more pleasant when kids have clothes that keep them warm, dry and visible to drivers.

There are several programs aimed at bicycle safety for younger riders. Take a look at some of these resources  in the interest of training the next generation of bicycle commuters:
For more information about youth bicycle safety or to request a Livable Streets presentation in your community contact Missouri Livable Streets at 573.884.8602 or e-mail HarrisTre@Missouri.edu.

1 comment:

  1. Improved route planning can prevent accidents. Improved riding skills can prevent accidents. Good brakes, coupled with the ability to use them effectively, can prevent accidents. Bright clothes during the day and bright lights at night can prevent accidents. Helmets cannot prevent accidents. Because of this severe limitation, helmets should be at the bottom of the safety list, not the top.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Even without a helmet, an easily visible, skillful rider on a well maintained bicycle is much safer than a helmeted cyclist who has been fooled into believing that wearing a helmet is the most important element of bicycle safety.