A common childhood rite of passage is learning how to ride a bike. From the first tricycle to taking off the training wheels, kids across the U.S. learn to ride in their own neighborhoods. However, this fun activity can lead to disaster without proper precautions. According to Stanford Medicine,100 children are killed and nearly 254,000 are injured as a result of bicycle-related accidents each year. To keep your child safe, you must teach them proper bike safety and the rules of the road.
Our Tips for Bike Safety
The personal injury attorneys at Casey Devoti & Brockland have seen our fair share of bike-related injuries. These injuries often result from the failure of motorists to see, appreciate, acknowledge and share the road with bicyclists. But, life-altering injuries can be minimized when the rider does certain bike safety practices. Our favorite bike safety tips include:
- Wearing a helmet. A helmet is a necessity for every bike ride — even just a ride down the street. It protects the rider from head and face injuries that may occur after falling off a bike and reduces the chance of fatal accidents. While a helmet is not required by law, you should encourage your child to wear a helmet early on so they continue the habit as they grow older.
- Wearing proper clothing. There is a reason cyclists often wear tight clothing. Loose fitting clothes may get caught in the spokes of a bike’s wheels, making form-fitting clothing a safer option for cyclists of all ages. As a general rule, those who ride a bike should also avoid open-toed shoes and wear brighter clothes to help motorists see them when they ride on or near streets.
- Ensuring the bike is safe. Your child’s bike must be checked to confirm that it is safe. For one, the bike must be the proper size, meaning that your child’s feet should touch the ground when seated. Bike safety requires that the bike itself is in overall good working condition with filled tires, reflectors on the wheels and a secure chain.
- Proper handling. Remind your child to keep both hands on the handlebars at all times and keep one person to a bike at a time. This keeps their bike in control and prevents them from falling or swerving into oncoming traffic.
- Nixing the earbuds. Make sure your child knows not to wear earbuds while riding. When occupying the roads, bicyclists must be able to hear traffic around them, such as a car quickly coming around the corner.
The Rules of the Road
Similarly, you should teach your child the basic rules of the road. While they may not need to know laws specifically, they should know to follow similar rules to the cars on the road around them. We recommend that you teach them to:
- Use hand signals. Left turns are indicated by a left arm extended to the side, while right turns are indicated by a right arm extended to the side. To show that you are stopping, stretch your left arm out and bend it at the elbow to show the classic “stop” sign behind you.
- Pick the best locations to ride. Bikes safety can be practiced on the roads or even on the sidewalks. For children under 10, it is recommended that they ride on a sidewalk where it is possible rather than public roads. However, if your child rides on the road, Missouri law dictates that they must stay to the right side of the road to allow for safe passage of vehicles.
- Follow the signage. Cyclists must follow traffic laws. This means following signage around them. If your child finds themselves at a stop sign or light, make sure they know when to stop and go. This teaches them to not ride into dangerous intersections without following the rules of the road.
Along for the Ride
Your child can enjoy a bike ride with their family members or friends all while practicing proper bike safety. Small changes in the way they ride may be the difference between riding home and calling an ambulance. Our personal injury attorneys make safety our utmost priority — visit the Casey Devoti & Brockland blog for more legal safety tips.