With winter ending and spring coming, more children in Texas will be riding their bikes to school, with friends and with family. Children, however, cannot always have the foresight adults do and may unknowingly take risks that could lead to a bike accident. There are safety measures parents can take to protect children from bike accidents.
What to wear
First and foremost, parents should always make sure their child wears a helmet when biking. The helmet should fit properly, with straps fastened. Your child may need to get a new helmet periodically as they grow, to ensure a proper fit. Children should never wear earphones when biking, as it could keep them from hearing other noises such as car horns. If riding at night, reflective clothing should be worn. Children should make sure they do not have any loose clothing such as baggy pants or untied shoelaces that could get caught in their bike chain. Children should not wear flip-flops, sandals or cleats while riding their bike as these types of footwear could slip off the pedals. Children should never ride their bike barefoot.
Where to ride
If a child is under age 10, they should only ride their bike on the sidewalk and should never bike in the dark. Older children should ride on the right-hand side of the street, following the direction of traffic. Children should ride in a single line, rather than alongside each other. If riding at night, your child’s bike should have proper lights and reflectors so they can be seen.
Children should be taught to look out for obstacles that could cause them to lose balance and crash. These include wet leaves, puddles, oil slicks, uneven pavement, potholes, drain grates and small rocks. Children should also be aware of cars parked on the side of the road, especially if a motorist is opening a car door into traffic, is reversing or is pulling into or out of traffic.
How to ride
Children may like to be daredevils, but they should always keep both hands on the handle bars of their bike and both feet on the pedals of their bike. Like motorists, children on bikes should obey all stop signs and traffic lights. Children on bikes should yield to the right of way of pedestrians If crossing a busy street or intersection, children should walk their bikes through to the other side of the road. Children should also be taught how to use hand signals when making a turn on their bike or stopping. If passing others on their left, children should be taught to say, “On your left!” loudly so other people or other bicyclists know they are there.
Only one person should ride on a single bike at a time — children should not try to carry a second child on their bike. Similarly, to avoid falling, children should not carry heavy packages or books when riding their bike. Children should never hang onto a moving automobile or motorcycle when riding.
Safe riding is fun riding
Children can have fun riding their bikes while still being safe if they are taught what to wear, how to ride around others, what to look out for and other bike safety rules. After all, safe riding is fun riding. Talking about these rules early and often is key to ensure children grow up into safe bicyclists. If your child is involved in a car accident while riding their bike, their parents will want to make sure they understand all their legal rights and options so they can make informed choices that benefit them and their child.