Teach your Child How to Safely Ride his Bike!

June 13, 2019
girl on bicycle YT size with logo
Always wear a bicycle helmet and ride on the right side with traffic!

Summertime is prime time for bicycle fun, but it can also be tragic … a 15 mile per hour head injury can be fatal!

With summer just around the corner, I am following the lead of the American Academy of Pediatrics and delivering to you many of the myths that surround bicycle adventure. Summertime is prime time for bicycle fun, but it can also be tragic. Indeed, a 15 mile per hour head injury can be fatal!

Myth: My child doesn’t need to wear a helmet on short rides around the neighborhood.

Fact: Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. In fact, the majority of bike crashes happen near home. A helmet protects your child from serious injury and should always be worn. Wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit.

Myth: A football helmet will work just as well as a bicycle helmet.

Fact: Only a bicycle helmet is made specifically to protect the head from any injury that may occur while biking. Other helmets or hard hats are made to protect the head from other types of injury. Never allow your child to wear another type of helmet when riding a bike.

Myth: I need to buy a bicycle for my child to grow into.

Fact: Oversized bikes are especially dangerous. Your child does not have the skills and coordination needed to handle a bigger bike and may lose control. Your child should be able to sit on the seat, with hands on the handlebars, and place the balls of both feet on the ground. Your child’s first bike should also be equipped with footbrakes, since your children’s hand muscles and coordination are not mature enough to control hand brakes.

Myth: It’s safer for my child to ride facing traffic.

Fact: Your child should always ride on the right, with traffic. Riding against traffic confuses or surprises drivers. Almost one fourth of bicycle-car collisions result from bicyclists riding against traffic.

Myth: Children shouldn’t use hand signals, because signaling may cause them to lose control of their bikes.

Fact: Hand signals are an important part of the rules of the road and should be taught to all children before they begin to ride in the street.

Myth: Bike reflectors and a reflective vest will make it safe for my child to ride at night.

Fact: It’s never safe for your child to ride a bike at night. Night riding requires special skills and special equipment. Few youngsters are equipped with either. Never allow your child to ride at dusk or after dark.

Myth: I don’t need to teach my child all of this bicycle safety stuff. I was never injured as a child. Biking is just meant to be fun.

Fact: Riding a bike is fun – if it’s done safely. Teach your child these basic safety rules:

  1. Always wear a helmet.
  2. Ride on the right side, with traffic.
  3. Use appropriate hand signals.
  4. Respect traffic signals.

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! Power your path to happiness!

References: healthy children.org. Bicycle Safety: Myths and Facts. Online [available at]: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Bicycle-Safety-Myths-And-Facts.aspx