Next Generation

Back-to-school bike safety tips

By From page A10 | September 10, 2013

Wear a helmet

It is the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes.

* Find the right helmet fit: Make sure your child has the right size helmet and wears it every time when riding, skating or scooting. Your child’s helmet should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards. When it’s time to purchase new helmets, let your children pick out their own; they’ll be more likely to wear them for every ride.

* Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly.

* Children should always wear a helmet for all wheeled sports activities. A properly fitted bike helmet is just as effective when riding a scooter, roller skating or inline skating, and children under 18 are required to wear one when participating in these activities.

Proper equipment and maintenance are important

* Ensure proper bike fit by bringing the child along when shopping for a bike. Select one that is the right size for your child now, not one he or she will grow into.

* When children are sitting on the seat of the bicycle, their feet should be able to touch the ground.

* Before the ride, make sure the reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.

* Long or loose clothing can get caught in bike chains or wheel spokes. Dress young kids appropriately to ensure a safe ride.

Keep an eye out

* Actively supervise children until you’re certain that they are responsible enough to ride on their own. Every child is different, but developmentally, it can be hard for kids to judge speed and distance of cars, so limit riding to parks or bike paths until your children routinely demonstrate they are able to ride in the street with other traffic around them.

* No matter where you ride, teach your child to stay alert and watch for cars, trucks and other bicyclists and pedestrians.

* Children should be able to demonstrate riding competence and knowledge of the rules of the road before cycling with traffic.

Model and teach good behavior

* You’d be surprised how much kids learn from watching you, so it’s extra important for parents to model proper behavior.

* Wear a helmet, even if you didn’t when you were a kid.

* Teach your kids to make eye contact with drivers. Bikers should make sure drivers are paying attention and are going to stop before they cross the street.

* Tell your kids to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it.

* Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stoplights.

* Stop and look left, right and left again before entering a street or crossing an intersection.

* Look back and yield to traffic coming from behind before turning left.

Be bright, use lights

* When riding at dusk, dawn or in the evening, be bright and use lights — and make sure your bike has reflectors as well.

* It’s also smart to wear clothes and accessories that have retro-reflective materials to improve biker visibility to motorists.

Source: Davis Police Department

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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