It doesn’t matter if you are 4 or 40, bike safety is a must for everyone in the family. It’s truly amazing the number of cyclists I see out on the road now wearing ear buds. There’s no way they would be able to hear a car horn, a barking dog or any other potential danger.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, more than 500,000 people in the US are treated in emergency departments, and more than 700 people die as a result of bicycle-related injuries. When worn properly, bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head and brain injury by as much as 85 percent. In fact, bike helmets are so important that the U.S. government has established safety standards for them.
Your child’s bike helmet should have a sticker on it from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), indicating that it has met these safety guidelines. Also be sure that the helmet fits properly. It should be worn level, cover the forehead and be snug enough that it can’t move around on your child’s head.
Be a good role model for your kids and teach them bike safety measures from the first minute they hop on two wheels.
Ditch the ear buds! Be alert to everything going on around you. Even more importantly, don’t take a call or check a text while you’re riding. Distracted driving extends to bicycle riding as well.
See and be seen. If you’re riding at night, make sure you have light reflecting tape attached to your jacket or shirt. Even during the day, be sure to wear brightly colored clothes. Install a headlight on your bicycle and one on your helmet so when you turn your head you can also see what’s nearby.
Have eyes in the back of your head. You wouldn’t drive a car without having side view mirrors, so why would you ride a bicycle without one? Make sure you know what’s coming up from behind you, especially if you need to swerve to avoid a pothole or a car door opening.
Stay visible to cars. If you’re waiting at a red light, never stop in the blind spot of any car that is near you. The driver might not see you while making a right turn and hit you as you begin to go. Instead, stay far in front of the car or well behind it.
Be prepared for emergencies. Keep a cell phone with you, but also a whistle to call attention if you’re in an area where you can’t get service or if you’re being attacked. Ride along well-lit streets and avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods. If you feel a car is following you, get off the street as fast as possible.
Look out for obstacles! Teach your kids to be aware of the area in which they are riding. Always be on the lookout for road obstacles, such as wet leaves, sand, gravel, storm grates, curbs and puddles. When riding at night, be sure they are riding in a well-lit area. Don’t ride too close to parked cars as someone could open their car door suddenly.
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