Safe Bicycling

Make sure your kids are safe when they take to the streets and parks on their bicycles.

By FamilyTime


Spring and summer and fall are prime bike-riding seasons and kids love to ride. Before they take off for the park, school, or the corner store, make sure your kids understand basic bike safety.

The Right Bike
Your kids need to have the right sized bike for their age and height. Don’t buy a child a bike that is too big, thinking he will “grow into it.” Since new bikes are expensive, look into well maintained used bikes for growing children.

To judge if the bicycle is the right size, make sure the child can put her feet flat on the ground when seated. The handlebars should be no higher than her shoulders.

Beginners should have bikes with foot brakes. Hand brakes are not intuitive enough for learners.

As general rules-of-thumb:

  • Four- and five-year-olds: bikes with 12-inch-diameter wheels.
  • Six- and seven-year-olds: bikes with 16-inch-diameter wheels
  • Seven- to nine-year-olds: bikes with 20-inch diameter wheels.
  • Ten- to 12-year-olds: bikes with 24-inch diameter wheels.
  • Teens: bikes with 26-inch diameter wheels.

    Helmets Are Not for Sissies
    Helmets are as necessary for bike riders as seatbelts are for drivers. Don’t let your child –regardless of his age -- ride without one!

    Make sure the helmet fits snugly. It should cover the child’s forehead and the chinstrap should fit comfortably around the ears. You should be able to fit one finger between your child’s chin and the strap.

    If you child falls and the helmut absorbs a substantial hit, replace it. It could be damaged.

    When you buy a helmet, make sure it has one of the following stickers of approval on it: ANSI (American National Standards Institute), ASTM (formerly the American Society for Testing and Material), or Snell (Snell Memorial Foundation).

    Teach Your Children Well
    Teach your youngsters to ride in a safe place, such as your driveway, a park, or a closed, empty parking lot. Never let six- or seven-year-olds ride on the streets unless you are with them and you feel confident of their skills.

    Encourage the beginner to practice braking and turning, teach her hand signals and how to glance over her shoulder while pedaling.

    Make sure that older children understand the rules of the road and that bike riders, as well as drivers, must obey traffic signals.

    Safety Tips
    Following are some safety tips all cyclists should take to heart:

  • Wear a helmet – no exceptions!
  • Stop and look before leaving your driveway or entering a street.
  • Walk the bike across busy intersections.
  • Yield to pedestrians and cars.
  • Obey stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Ride with (not against) traffic.
  • Use hand signals when turning.
  • Ride singal file.
  • Never wear headphones or earphones.
  • Wear light-colored, close-fitting clothes.
  • Put reflectors on the bike and helmet.
  • Avoid riding at night.

    Happy riding!