Warm weather is coming up, with all the wonderful promise of sunny days spent playing at overnight summer camp, building sand castles at the beach and getting outside to enjoy the magical freedom of bicycle riding.
While everyone can agree that bikes and kids go together like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say, it’s vitally important that kids of all ages learn and adhere to basic cycling safety rules.
Injuries incurred while riding a bike account for more injuries in youngsters between five and 15 than any other sport. Don’t let your child be a statistic; teach him the rules of the road and have a safe, fun-filled summer.
Always Wear a Helmet
Not even the shortest little cruise around the driveway should taken without a properly fitting bike helmet. You can buy them at discount stores, sports outlets or bike shops; however, at a cycling shop you’re more likely to get some help with proper fit. If a helmet’s too tight, your child may just sling it over the handle bars once you’re out of sight, and if it’s too loose, it won’t provide proper protection.
Light It Up
Lights and reflective gear are another important part of bike safety, especially at the dangerous times of like dusk and after dark. Bikes should be equipped with reflectors and both white front and red rear lights. Estimated to reduce the risk of being hit by a car by roughly 85 percent, reflectors are cheap and easy to install. A pulsating rear light is a great safety feature, as it’s immediately visible to cars approaching from the rear. A headlamp will help your child avoid obstacles; even a tiny bump can unseat a rider.
See and Be Seen
Even if your child’s bike is properly equipped with lights and reflectors, bike clothing itself should be highly visible. Contrary to popular wisdom, white hasn’t been found to make a rider more visible; bright, neon or fluorescent colors are much better options whether riding in daylight or darkness. Clothing should also have light reflecting components like reflective markings, tape or even flashing lights.
Make sure your child’s bike is property adjusted to height and arm length. Have your youngster stand over the bike; there should be one to two inches between child and top bar on a road bike and three to four inches on a mountain bike. Seat should be level and the knee should be slightly bent when the leg is extended, and the handlebars should be at the same level as the bike seat.
Tune It Up
Especially before the first ride of the year, make a safety check of your child’s bike, or teach him how to do so. It’s a great idea to take the bike into your local bike shop for a spring-time tune-up; mechanics will make sure everything’s in working order so there won’t be any unpleasant surprises on that first trip down the hill to the playground. Make sure tires are properly inflated and brakes are working.
Take a Class
As spring approaches, many police departments, fire districts, schools and community centers conduct bike safety classes, so keep an eye on the local papers for a class in your neighborhood. Most are held in spring, so you can squeeze it in before your youngster heads off to sleepaway camp. Kids bring their own bikes and instructors go over rules of the road and other safety guidelines.
Follow the Rules of the Road
Kids should know to ride in the same direction as other vehicles, following the flow of traffic, and obey all traffic roads, including traffic signs and signals. At least one hand should be on the handlebars at all times. Teach your youngster to use signals, look before turning and watch for parked cars. Happy cycling!
Let your kids enjoy the experience of summer day camp at Maplewood Summer Day Camp. Experienced staff will keep your child both safe and busy with arts and crafts, games, water sports, gymnastics and more. Visit the site at http://www.maplewoodyearround.com to see the fun your child will have at Maplewood Summer Day Camp.