Knowing the rules of bicycle safety is important so your child
can avoid a serious injury. Here are some facts about bicycle
- Children ages 5 to 14 have a higher rate of
bicycle injuries than older riders.
- Bicycle injuries in younger children most often
result from errors they have made.
- Injuries to the face and head are the most severe
injuries for bicyclists.
- Fatal injuries are most often caused when a
cyclist crosses an intersection without looking for cars, or by
drivers who have been drinking alcohol.
- Children are at risk for injury no matter where
they are riding. One study found the same severity of injuries
among children bicycling in their own neighborhood as older
children using the bicycle as a means of transportation.
If your child is learning to ride or already rides
a bicycle, here are several safety points that you should
Bicycle rules need to be appropriate for the age of
the child. Children should not ride in the street until they
demonstrate a good understanding and ability to follow the rules of
- Always wear a helmet.
- Always wear protective shoes (no bare feet or
- Avoid riding at dusk or at night. If a child must
ride at night, proper bicycle lights and reflective clothing are
- Never carry another passenger on the
- Ride in a single file and only in the direction
- Ride in a straight line while near the curb.
- Always obey stoplights and stop signs.
- Never assume that the driver of a car sees you at
- Use good balance and steering, proper hand
signals, and brakes safely.
- Get off the bicycle safely.
- Look behind you when you turn across a traffic
Children frequently do not learn or have the skills
needed to ride on the street until age 10. Even after this age, you
should periodically check your child's skills. Check to see if your
child pays attention to potential obstacles or dangers such as
rocks, tree limbs, and cars exiting driveways or alleys.
Wear a Bicycle
Helmets are very effective in reducing the risk of
serious head injury or death as a result of bicycle accidents. Get
a bicycle helmet before your child takes his first bicycle ride.
Even a child riding in a bicycle carrier should wear a helmet. A
child should always wear a helmet every time she gets onto a
Parents can do a lot to encourage a child to wear a
helmet. Some ways include:
- Always wear a helmet yourself when you are riding
a bicycle and make an effort to ride with your child.
- Allow your child to pick out his or her own
- Buy some stickers to "jazz up" a helmet.
- Praise your child for wearing the helmet and
address her concern when the helmet does not fit properly.
- Always insist that your child put on a helmet
before he or she gets onto a bicycle. If your child breaks this
rule, remove bicycle privileges for 1 week.
Choose a Proper
Bicycle Size and Type
Having the right size of bicycle is important for
the safety of your child. Children riding bicycles that are too big
for them are injured more often then children with the proper size
of bike. Never buy or allow the use of a bicycle that the child
will "grow into."
A child should be able to touch both feet on the
ground comfortably when standing over the bicycle. The top bar of
the bicycle should be at least 1 inch below the crotch while the
child is standing. Your child should be able to reach the
handlebars comfortably while sitting on the bicycle seat in an
Children just learning to ride on streets should
use a bike with foot brakes because they require less coordination
for safe use. Children who can safely ride on roadways can use
bicycles that require more coordination (such as those with hand
brakes and manual gear shifts).
A child or parent should regularly check the
bicycle's brakes and tire pressure. If the bicycle has rapid
release hubs, check the hubs before each ride. Bicycles with
damaged parts such as wheels, spokes, or handlebars should be
repaired before they are used again.