The warm weather means that more families look to the great outdoors for their activities. Bike riding is a great activity that many families with kids of all ages can enjoy. While bike riding can be a great experience for everyone, there are some important safety tips and guidelines to consider before you take your children for a bike ride.
The most important thing to do before your child hops on their bike is to get them a properly fitted helmet. Properly fitting helmets are the best way to prevent head injuries. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, "wearing a proper fitting, Consumer Product Safety Commission certified helmet could prevent 85 percent of cyclists' head injuries." More than anything else, a helmet that fits and is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission will keep your kids safe and their wheels spinning.
It is important that your child's helmet meets safety standard, and finding a helmet that does is surprisingly simple. Acceptable helmets can be found at your local Walmart, Target, or bike shop. When you go to purchase your child's helmet, bring your child with you to the store so that they can try it on. When you are looking at different helmets, check that it has a sticker from the Consumer Product Safety Commission signifying it meets the U.S. government safety standards. The helmet should fit low, level and snug on your child's head. Fortunately, you can get a decent helmet for around $10- $15 so you don't need to choose between safety and cost.
A great resource on helmets that is put out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is a free app called CDC Heads Up Concussion and Helmet Safety. This app teaches about the proper care, safety and fit of a helmet for a variety of different sports. This app also will teach you how to identify a concussion and what to do if you or if someone you know is suffering from a concussion.
Now that you have a properly fitted helmet, it is useful to become familiar with the biking rules in your area. In most areas, children younger than 10 years of age should ride their bicycle on the sidewalk. Cyclist should ride in the same direction as traffic and remain visible. Stay as far to the right as possible and away from traffic. As parents, you should become educated with the bike hand signals and use them when appropriate.
You are almost ready to ride! An important final step to take before you go out is to check your bike by conducting a safety inspection. It's handy to remember the ABCs when checking your bike. Check the air in your tires to ensure they are filled and that they do not have any holes. Check your brakes to make sure that they are in good working order. Finally, check your chain to see if it is lubricated and in working order as well as any other mechanical pieces of the bike.
If you're looking for a way to cut costs when purchasing a bikes for you and your children, some bike shops rent bikes or sell used bikes, and you can also check Craigslist, Ebay, and local sale pages. These are great alternatives to buying brand new bikes that your children may outgrow very quickly.
Always remember to bring enough water with you on your bike ride! It is important to stay hydrated and if you plan on biking for an extended period of time you may even want to consider packing snacks.
You are now ready to ride! Happy biking!