Bicycling is a great way to get around; it’s good exercise, it’s fun, and it allows kids to be independent. But biking causes more traumatic brain injuries than any other sport and each day a child in the United States dies of bicycle-related injuries.

Education is the key to safety. Kids need to know how to wear a helmet properly, rules of the road, how to inspect their bikes for problems, and general safety tips. Local laws and general safety information are spelled out in publications by state departments of motor vehicles, which should be available at your local DMV, library, or school. Meanwhile, here are some basic tips to help keep the bicyclists in your family safe.


• Choose a helmet with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker
• Make sure it’s the right size—ask at the bike shop or read the fitting and instructions sheet
• Never wear a hat under the helmet
• Wear the helmet level, with the forehead partially covered
• Tighten the straps so the helmet doesn’t wobble or slide
• Treat helmets with care to avoid cracking or breaking
• Replace a helmet if it took a blow

Bike Care and Inspection

• Make sure the bike is the right size
o When you are on your bicycle, stand straddling the top bar of your bike so that both feet are flat on the ground; there should be 1 to 3 inches of space between you and the top bar.
• Make sure your seat, handlebars, and wheels fit tightly
• Check and oil your chain regularly
• Check your brakes to be sure they work well and aren't sticking
• Check your tires to make sure they have enough air and the right amount of tire pressure

General Safety Tips

o Strap down loose clothing or shoelaces so they don’t get caught in the chain
o Wear bright colors so car drivers can see you
o Wear sneakers when riding—sandals, flip-flops or cleats can grip poorly or snag on something
o Do not ride with headphones or earbuds—it’s important to hear cars, dogs, other bicyclists and other potential hazards around you
o Watch for road hazards like wet leaves, large puddles, loose gravel, curbs, storm grates, changes in road surface, other riders, animals

Rules of the Road
• Young children should ride on the sidewalk
o Stop and check both ways for cars when entering a street
o Cross at intersections
o Stop at stop signs and stop lights
o Ride in the direction of traffic
o Signal turns
o At busy intersections, dismount and walk your bike across the street with a pedestrian walk signal
o Ride single file
o Don’t ride too close to parked cars (doors could open)
o Use bike lanes when possible
o If you must ride at night, equip your bike with lights AND reflectors and wear pale clothes with reflectors
o Look before turning
o When passing pedestrians or bicyclists, slow down and shout “On your left” or “On your right”
Reprinted from the Foster Parent College "Connections" newsletter

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Siegle is a mother, writer and editor. She works for Northwest Media, Inc. producer of online classes for resource parents and of classes on independent living skills for youth.