Children who ride bikes to school need to pay attention

Children face considerably more challenges – and threats – than their parents and grandparents who rode their bicycles to school when they were young. Cars travel faster. Drivers have more distractions. And many neighborhoods still aren’t adequately designed for safe bicycling.

At the same time, there is greater emphasis today on providing safer routes to school, and safety equipment has improved significantly. Riding bicycles can be a fun, healthy alternative to travel by vehicles. The following tips can help increase safety for two-wheeled school commutes:

  • Always wear your helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Make sure that your helmet fits correctly. The helmet should fit low on your forehead so that two fingers fit between it and your eyebrows. Another way to check is to put the helmet on your head and look up. If you can’t see your helmet, it is too far back.
  • To ride safely, you need to know the rules of the road. If you don’t, then you should not ride in traffic or without an adult.
  • Ride on the right side of the road or trail in a single file line in the same direction as other vehicles and come to a complete stop before crossing streets.
  • If you ride in a group, always ride single-file, not with another bike rider next to you.
  • Wait for a driver’s signal before crossing the street.
  • When you ride a bicycle, you should wear bright colors during the day and right before the sun rises or sets.
  • Focus on riding rather than on your friends if you are riding as part of a group.
  • Riding at night can be dangerous. If you must ride your bicycle when it is dark, you should ride with an adult. You should have a white light on the front of your bicycle and a red reflector or flashing red light on the back. You also can get lights and reflective materials to put on your shoes, helmet and clothing.
  • Practice makes you more skilled at riding your bicycle. The more skilled you are at riding, the less likely you will be to crash. Practice riding skills in an empty parking lot or a place with no traffic. Practice such things as riding in a straight line, looking over your shoulder, signaling with your hands and starting and stopping.

Published 8-16-13