Riding a bicycle is a right of passage. Many of us remember days of our youth spent riding to friends’ homes and activities in the summer. We often took our bicycle to get to school. These days bikes can serve as more than just a way for children to gain independence and freedom, they can also help to better ensure our kids get some extra exercise.
Although the benefits are many, with every activity comes some level of risk. Three ways to help mitigate the risks that come with letting our children bike include the following.
#1: Get the right gear.
Make sure the bike itself is safe. Check to make sure brakes are in good working order, tires are properly inflated, and that the seat is set to the right height. Many bikes have quick release wheels. Make sure these are fully locked and show kids how to check this before they go out on a ride.
Lighting is also important. If your kid will be riding at night, make sure they have proper lights and know how to use them. Wearing bright clothing can also help to increase visibility when riding during the day.
#2: Know the rules.
Take a moment to discuss the rules of the road as well as your own expectations. If the kid is younger than ten, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends the child ride on the sidewalks. Those that are older and mature enough may ride on the road and should follow the rules of the road. This generally includes biking with the flow of traffic and obeying traffic signs.
You may also have certain requirements. You know your neighborhood and which areas are more dangerous. Perhaps a road has a higher speed limit or there is not a good place to cross. Share these additional rules with your child to help keep them safe.
#3: Be on the defense.
Cyclists are wise to always stay alert. Teach children to watch out for cars and give vehicles the right of way but also to watch out for potholes, branches, rocks, and other hazards that can result in a crash.
Unfortunately, as highlighted by the recent tragic accident of an award winning seventeen-year-old cyclist who was training for the world championships when he was struck and killed by a driver, even those that take every precaution can find themselves the victims of a crash. Those who are victims of bike accidents are wise to seek medical attention to help heal any wounds from the crash. After dealing with immediate medical needs, it is wise to reach out to legal counsel to discuss potential remedies. Civil remedies may be available to help provide funds to cover the cost of medical treatment. An attorney can discuss your options after reviewing your case.