As the holidays approach, I know that a number of kids will receive new bikes as gifts this year. Some will get their first bike, and some will get a new bike with more capabilities than a prior bike. Whatever the case, it’s always good to remind our kids the dangers of biking and to make sure that they know how to bike safely. Having represented a number of cyclists injured in various wrecks, we know the importance of good safety more than anyone.
Here are some bicycle safety tips from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration:
1. WEAR A PROPERLY FITTED BICYCLE HELMET. Fortunately, helmets are increasingly common these days and kids don’t feel the stigma to avoid a helmet like they used to. But far too many kids just use any helmet they like. To make it as safe as possible, it’s important to make sure the helmet fits. The NHTSA has these five easy tips for making sure the helmet fits.
2. ADJUST YOUR BICYCLE TO FIT. When you’re standing over your bike, there should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top bar of the bike. The seat height should also be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be the same as the seat.
3. SEE AND BE SEEN. People think they should wear white in the daytime. This is wrong. Studies show that it’s safest to wear bright colors — with neon or fluorescent colors being most noticeable. Also, use your lights. Wear a blinking light or put extra reflective tape on your clothes or bike.
4. CONTROL YOUR BICYCLE. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. My wife tells me that she passes a high school student every morning who flies down the bike lane with both hands texting on his phone and no hands on his handlebar. Don’t let your kids be that guy. Carry books or other items in a carrier or backpack.
5. WATCH FOR AND AVOID ROAD HAZARDS.
6. MINIMIZE RIDING AT NIGHT. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because it is harder for others to see you. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bike and that you use a light on the front of your bike. It’s also a good idea to wear a flashing light in front and back to make sure others see you.
7. OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS.
8. BE PREDICTABLE. Ride in a straight line. Don’t weave in and out of cars. Signal your turns and moves to others.