For many families, biking is more than just an enjoyable pastime. It’s a great form of exercise as well as a social and recreational activity. Family bike rides teach kids the value of an active, healthy lifestyle. Biking also gives children a deeper appreciation for the outdoors.

Every summer, however, tragic bicycle accidents make headlines across the country. Some even involve kids. Many such accidents can be prevented by taking safety seriously.

Follow these tips every time you hit the pavement to reduce your chances of an accident:

  • Wear helmets. Children should never be allowed to ride without them, even if they’re tagging along in a bike trailer. Adults, too, should set a good example (and protect their own noggins) by always wearing helmets. Make sure yours are well-fitted, and keep the straps snuggly clasped.
  • Keep young children out of the street – especially when they’re still getting their wheels under them. Instead, let them ride on the sidewalk or dedicated bike trails.
  • Maintain your bike and gear. Check the tire pressure, gears, handlebars and brakes before you ride, and get regular tune-ups.
  • Opt for a bike trailer rather than a mounted child seat. A trailer has a lower center of gravity and won’t throw off your balance as much as an attached seat. Choose one that has five-point harnesses, a roll cage, a safety flag and a screen or cover.
  • Make yourself visible. Wear bright, reflective clothing, especially if you’ll be riding at dawn or dusk. Equip your bike with reflectors and lights. The last thing you want is to blend into your surroundings – particularly when traffic is around.

Cycling has inherent risks, but there is no need to avoid it entirely. Just use common sense to keep those risks to a manageable level.