Bicycles are an important form of travel and recreation, to young and old alike. For many children, it is a daily primary form of play and transportation for many years in their childhood. More than 30 million children ride bicycles, and children represent the population most likely to suffer a serious injury or death from a bicycle related accident. Head injury is the leading cause of death from bicycle accidents. The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes is a helmet. They have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 88%. The following tips on bike safety will assist you in making safe decisions about safe bicycling.
Wear a Helmet
- Buy a helmet that meets or exceeds current safety standards developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Correct fit is essential. Do the "Eyes, Ears and Mouth" check:
- EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet (one to two fingers above the eyebrows).
- EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
- MOUTH check: Now open your mouth as wide as you can! Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps!
- Involve you child. If you child is reluctant to wear her helmet, try letting her choose her own. Helmets come in many colors and styles – allowing children to choose a helmet that’s “cool” may make them less likely to take it off when you’re not around.
- Be a role model. Talk to other parents and encourage them to have their kids wear helmets. Let your children see that you wear a helmet, too. Children are more likely to wear helmets when riding with others who wear them.
Practice Bike Safety
- Cyclists should be restricted to sidewalks and paths until they reach the age of 10 and can demonstrate they know the rules of the road.
- Supervision is essential until children develop the necessary traffic skills and judgment.
- Make sure your bike has a light and reflectors on the front, back and sides.
Teach Your Children
- A bicycle is a vehicle, not a toy. Riding a bike – especially around traffic – is an important responsibility.
- Ride with traffic, not against it. Ride as far to the right as possible.
- Use appropriate hand signals.
- Respect traffic signals. Stop at all stop signs and red lights.
- Stop and look left, right and left again before entering a street.
- Look back and yield to traffic coming from behind before turning left at intersections.
- Don’t ride when it’s dark. If riding at dusk, dawn or in the evening is unavoidable, wear retro-reflective material on clothing or bike, and use lights on the bike.
Remember! For a helmet to fit properly, it must pass the "Eyes, Ears and Mouth" check.