Biking accidents, some fatal occur too often. An estimated half a million toddler children in the US get serious injuries in bicycle accidents yearly. Here are ways to ensure you and your children stay safe when riding.
Bicycle helmets save lives when a cycling accident occurs by protecting the head from injuries; a common cause of death in such accidents. Many states require people to wear bicycle helmets regardless of the distance. Look out for characteristics which enhance safety such as color and fit.
When buying the helmets, you should pick a bright or fluorescent color that can be easily seen especially in darkness. This alerts motorists to your presence. The helmets should also be well fitting; adequately ventilated, designed for biking and should have the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) or Snell sticker. This sticker shows that the helmet meets the set safety standards. The helmets should also be adjustable. When you put a helmet on a kid, make sure that the straps are fastened so that the helmet doesn’t easily move or fall off.
When your children go out biking, what they wear can help protect them. Get them to wear bright-colored or fluorescent clothes or light-weight reflective items of clothing when it’s dark. Avoid flared and extremely loose-fitting pants and tie up any straps on the clothing or bag. The shoes they wear must give them a good grip on the pedal. Heavy loads should also be avoided.
Every season, check the bicycle at least once to ensure that it’s in good condition. Check that the tires are inflated as recommended and the chain is clean and well oiled. The handle bars should be adjusted to the child’s height and all bolts tightened. You should also adjust the seat level accordingly and check the brakes to ensure the cables are not frayed. Replace the brake pads if they are worn out.
Biking safety is not complete without following the rules. Below are some of the biking rules:
- Obey traffic lights. Stop when you see a stop sign, red lights take extra care at intersections.
- Don’t ride against traffic.
- Where available, use designated biking lanes as opposed to sidewalks.
- Avoid riding when it’s dark.
- Be on the lookout for cars turning or exiting driveways. When you are leaving driveways, alleys or curbs, always stop to check both directions for oncoming traffic.
- Keep some distance between you and parked cars lest a car door suddenly opens.
- At busy intersections, use the crosswalk and walk your bike across.
- Keep to the left of other and people walking on the street when you want to pass them and look behind if you want to change lanes or direction.
- Learn the hand signals. When turning left, slow down and stretch out your arm to the left. For a right turn, stretch out the right arm. To stop, bend you arm downward at the elbow in an “L” shape then stop.
Teach children these rules both by theory and by following the rules yourself.