Bicycling is a fun and healthy activity that many children enjoy. It offers them a sense of freedom and independence while providing excellent exercise. However, it also comes with responsibilities and potential harm. The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security estimates that almost 400 people get hurt in bicycle accidents each year, and many of them are children. Teaching children how to be safe bicyclists is important in ensuring that they enjoy this activity without risking injury.
As a parent or guardian, you play an important role in teaching the skills and knowledge needed for safe biking. By teaching children the rules of the road and proper biking techniques, you contribute to their immediate safety and instill lifelong habits that will serve them well in the future.
Choose the right equipment
Begin by selecting the appropriate bicycle for the child’s size and age. A bike that is too big or too small can be challenging to control and may lead to accidents. Ensure that the bike has properly functioning brakes and tires and equip it with essential safety accessories like a bell, reflectors and lights.
Teach proper helmet use
A helmet is a vital piece of safety equipment. Teach children to wear a helmet every time they ride and make sure it fits snugly and sits level on the head.
Teach braking and steering
Teach children how to use their brakes effectively and steer safely. Practice in a controlled environment, like an empty parking lot, to help them master these fundamental skills.
Practice signaling and road rules
Ensure that children understand hand signals for turning and stopping and confirm they understand basic road rules such as stopping at stop signs and obeying traffic signals.
Instruct children to wear bright, reflective clothing and explain the importance of making eye contact with drivers to ensure the drivers see them.
Promote awareness and caution
Teach children to be aware of their surroundings, including watching for cars, pedestrians and other obstacles. Encourage them to ride defensively and anticipate potential hazards.
Lead by example
Your actions and behavior on the road will significantly influence young riders. Ride with them and demonstrate the safe biking practices you have taught them, reinforcing the lessons through real-world experience.
Teaching children to be safe bicyclists is a rewarding and essential task. When you know how to effectively teach them, you help children to enjoy the fun and freedom of biking with confidence and care. The lessons you impart today will contribute to their safety and enjoyment of bicycling for years to come.