Riding a bike is a great way to get exercise and spend some time with your family. But riding around the neighborhood is a big responsibility! The key to having fun is making sure that you follow all of the road rules. Did you know bike-riders follow a lot of the same rules that drivers follow? Bikers need to stop at red lights and stop signs. They also need to come to a complete stop and look both ways before pulling out of a driveway or their neighborhood.
Bikes don’t have turn signals like a car, so it is your job to let everyone know which way you are turning or if you are planning to stop. When riding a bike, your arms work like turn signals. Your left arm extended all the way out means that you are planning to turn left. Your left arm bent with your palm facing forward means that you are planning to turn right. (You can also extend your right arm all the way out to let someone know that you are turning right.) And to stop, bend your left arm and place your palm facing behind you. Even when you are using hand signals, it is important that you take a look around before making any drastic turns.
If you plan to head out to the road, make sure that you are traveling with the flow of traffic, on the right-hand side of the road. If there is a bike lane, stay inside it. This will help prevent you from coming into contact with cars and trucks that might be traveling beside you. When riding with other people, make sure that you stay in a single-file line. If you are in the lead, using hand signals is a great way to tell everyone in your group which way you are planning to go. No matter where you are riding, it is important that you keep an eye on your surroundings. You can’t always predict what cars or other bike-riders will do, and you want to be ready for anything!
Before you start riding and getting exercise, make sure that you have a helmet on. If you do fall off your bike, the helmet will protect your head along with what’s inside of it: your brain! Helmets tend to be lightweight and pretty comfortable. The most important thing to look for is a bike helmet that fits your head. If you are wearing one that is too small or too big, it won’t work as well to prevent head injuries. Planning to ride your bike at night? It helps to have some type of reflective material on your bike, your helmet, and your clothing. This helps drivers see that you are out riding your bike, even in the dark. While you should always keep an eye on what is going on around you, at night, it is even more important to be careful.
With your helmet on your head, check over your bike to see if it needs any work before you ride off. Sometimes, a bike will need a little maintenance. In order to maintain your bike, check the tires to see if they have enough pressure. It helps to have a hand pump in the garage so you can get those tires up and ready to go in no time. Also, check the brakes to make sure that you can come to a complete stop. Finally, give the chain a double-check. If it ever becomes too loose, your parents can cut the chain and put it back together to help you get your speed back. You can also use chain lubricant to keep that chain in great condition.
Check out these sites to learn more about bike safety for kids and families:
- Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet (PDF)
- Riding Safely: The Rules of the Road
- Safety Out and About: Walking, Biking, Scooter, School Bus, and Shopping Cart Safety
- The ABCs of Bicycle Maintenance
- Give Your Kids a Biking and Walking Quiz
- Injury Prevention and Safety Activity Book (PDF)
- Safe Riding Tips for Kids
- Exercise Bike Buyers Guide
- Safe Kids Worldwide: Facts and Tips for Bicycle Safety
- Bicycle Safety: What Every Parent Should Know (PDF)
- Head Injuries and Bicycle Safety
- Teaching Children Bicycle Safety
- Why Is Kids’ Bike Safety Soaring? It’s Not That Kids Are Biking Less
- Bicycle Safety: Myths and Facts
- Riding With Kids: It Takes a Different Approach
- Safety Rules Can Protect Your Child
- Safe Routes: Bicycle Safety (video)