Kids should learn bike safety before they wheel out SAFETY Ready to Ride
TEACHING YOUR CHILD TO RIDE A BICYCLE is a great way for the whole family to get outside and get some exercise. As you demonstrate how to pedal and brake, it’s also important to emphasize the importance of bike safety. About 26,000 children go to emergency departments each year with biking-related head injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in bicycle crashes. Despite data that shows wearing a bike helmet can lower the number of deaths by 75 percent, only about 15 to 25 percent of children routinely wear their helmets. Data shows that wearing a bike helmet can lower the number of deaths by 75 PERCENT . In California, it’s the law. Minors under the age of 18 must wear a properly fitted bike helmet while cycling on streets, sidewalks and bike paths. Are you taking your young child for a ride around the block as a passenger on your bike? They need a helmet then, too. Bike safety includes regularly ensuring all equipment from tires and brakes to handlebars are in good working
condition. While kids are always growing, it’s safest if their bikes are just the right size, where they can reach the balls of both feet comfortably to the ground with both hands on the handlebars. Children also need to be taught the rules of the road, including that they shouldn’t ride in the street until they’re at least 10 years old and show good riding and safety skills. Kids on bikes should ride on the right side of the road in the same direction as traffic, follow all traffic signals and stop signs, use correct hand signals and look both ways before entering the street. Some bicycle collisions involving other vehicles can be avoided with greater visibility. Children’s bikes can be outfitted with reflectors and lights, and kids can dress in brightly colored clothes. Due to poor lighting, it can be dangerous for children to ride at dusk or after dark. Above all else, bicycle riders of all ages need to stay alert. Potholes, puddles, rocks and sewer grates can cause riders to tumble. Parked cars can pose a hazard when a door opens. And while it’s tempting to listen to music while on a bike ride, experts say kids should leave their earbuds at home so they can hear horns and other traffic noises.
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