Riding a bicycle is one of the joys of childhood. Not only is it fun, it has great health benefits. Cycling is good for the heart, improves balance and co-ordination, helps with weight control, enhances well-being, and promotes mental health.
Parents must teach their children how to ride safely, ensure their child's bike and helmet are well maintained and fit properly — and most importantly, parents must set a good example for their children.
When a child receives his or her first tricycle or bicycle, a lifelong pattern of vehicle operation has begun. A bike is not just a toy, but a vehicle that is a speedy means of transportation, subject to the same laws as motor vehicles.
The easiest thing for a parent to do is to purchase a bike from a retailer that has the knowledge and expertise to help you select a bike that fits your child properly. If your child already owns a bike, a good retailer can check the bike to make sure that everything is in good working condition, as well as adjust the bike for a more comfortable ride. If you are a "do-it-your-self" type of person, then here are the things to consider:
Sprocket Man is a comic book character that was created by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to teach bicycle safety.
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Make sure that your child's bike is the proper size.
Buy your child a bike that fits them now. Do not buy a bike that they can grow into. A bike that is too big or too small will be hard to control. The general rule of thumb is that when a child is standing on the ground, their should be a 1-3 inch gap between their body and the top tube of the bicycle.
Make sure the seat is adjusted properly
Most bicycles allow you to raise or lower the seat. To find the correct seat height, have your child sit on the bike with their foot on the pedal. Their knee should be slightly bent when sitting firmly on the seat with their feet on the pedals. Some bikes also allow you to adjust the angle of the seat up or down to insure a more comfortable riding position on the bike.
Make sure that there is a reflector on the front and rear of your child's bike. The rear should be red, and should be at least three inches across. Make sure the reflector is pointed straight back to reflect the headlights of cars that are coming up behind your child.
The bike chain should be clean and lubricated.
Check your brakes for even pressure. They should make your back wheels skid on dry pavement, but the brakes themselves should not stick.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET!
Insist That Your Child Wear A Helmet Every Time they Ride A Bike
A helmet should be worn even when they are passengers on the back of an adult's bike. If they learn to wear helmets whenever they ride bikes, it becomes a habit for a lifetime. Withhold bike privileges if they do not wear a helmet when riding. It is important to be consistent- Never Allow Your Child To Get On Their Bicycle Without A Helmet.
Teach Your Child How To Wear A Helmet
It is important to purchase a helmet that fits properly and is specifically adjusted to fit your child's head. Make sure your child's helmet has been approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Pick a bright color for visibility. Avoid helmets with complicated adjustments or a rigid visor that could snag in a fall. Also avoid helmets with a squared-off shell, inadequate vents, excessive vents, an extreme "aero" shape, dark colors, or thin straps.
Click Here! for More Info on Purchasing and Fitting a Bicycle Helmet.
Images from National Highway Traffic Safety Association
Adults should set a good example by wearing a helmet every time they ride a bike.
The most important factor influencing children to wear helmets is riding with an adult who wears a helmet.
Talk to your children about why you want them to protect their heads.
Reward your kids for wearing helmets. Praise kids who put on their helmets without having to be told.
Replace the helmet if it has been damaged.
Parents should set limits on where children may ride.
Young children should ride off street, and only with adult supervision. The decision to allow older children to ride in the street should depend on traffic patterns, individual maturity, and an adequate knowledge and ability to follow the "Rules of the Road."
Children should be trained to follow the "Rules of the Road," and should have their bike privileges withheld if they ignore safety rules or don't wear a helmet.
RULES OF THE ROAD
- Always ride with traffic.
- Stop and look both ways before entering the street.
- Stop at all intersections (marked and unmarked).
- Before turning, use hand signals and look all ways.
Children should never ride at dusk or in the dark.
Night riding requires special skills and special equipment. Few youngsters are equipped with either. Your child should be told to call home for a ride, rather than ride their bike at dusk, or in the dark.
What to Wear and Not to Wear
Always Wear A Helmet!
Visibility is Important
Have your child wear something that makes them easy to see when they're biking. Colors such as hot pink, fluorescent green, yellow or orange are all great choices.
Don't Let Your Kids Get Overheated
Cycling is hard work. You can really get hot and sweaty. Wear clothing that is lightweight, and will keep you cool. If your riding in colder weather, be sure to wear layers of clothing so that you can take off clothing as your body heats up.
Loose Items Can Cause Accidents
Don't allow your child to wear loose fitting clothing, carry any items such as backpacks with long straps, wear long shoelaces, and any other items that may get tangled in your spokes and cause an accident.
Wear Appropriate Shoes
Never allow your child to wear open toed shoes or high heals when cycling.
Never Wear Headphones or Other Listening Devices
Never allow your child to wear anything that will interfere with their ability to hear, and preceive the traffic around them.
Teach Your Child to Ride Defensively
Sometimes things on the road can be dangerous- teach you child to watch out for and avoid: wet leaves, puddles of water, patches of ice, loose gravel, rocks, broken glass, cracks in the road storm grates, railroad tracks and opening car doors.