Back to School Bike Safety
It’s back to school bike safety time, and this time of year means there will be more bicyclists on the road! Beware when driving to work – plan to leave a little early so you can drive slower, watch out for pedestrians and stay stress-free during the increased traffic school time brings.
If you have school age children, chances are you’re sending off little cyclists of your own onto these busy streets. So there’s no time like now to brush up on some bicycle safety tips.
What is the right age to send your child to school on a bike?
The answer to this question varies greatly from child to child. Only you know whether or not your child has enough skill and maturity to ride his or her bike to school without an adult. Until then, it’s a great idea to ride your bike with them. Demonstrate back to school bike safety by teaching them the rules of the road and how to react to surprises. Give them some practice stopping, turning and signaling with you there to protect them. Reinforce the need for them to stay alert and aware of their surroundings at all times, keeping both hands on the handlebars. You’ll enjoy some fresh air, exercise and bonding time every morning until you know for certain your child is ready.
Riding to school with your child will also allow you to plan the best low-traffic route. You’ll likely need to chart this out before school begins – cruise around your neighborhood or look at a map to identify the best way for your child to take. Then ride together to show your child the way, and make sure he or she is aware of any danger zones or 4-way stops they’ll need to navigate once they go solo. It may also be a good idea to have your child practice riding while wearing a backpack full of books, so they’ll know how to stay steady with the extra weight and you can make any necessary adjustments.
Back to School Bike Safety Check
Before hitting the road, conduct a back to school bike safety check with your child. Make sure he or she can straddle the frame with both feet flat on the ground. Do your ABC’s by checking the (A) air pressure, squeezing the (B) brakes, making sure the (C) chain shifts into each gear. Add reflectors to the front and back of the bike for increased visibility, and make sure you purchase a proper fitting helmet. Show your child how to position their helmet properly.
Other things to consider when preparing your child to ride a bike to school are:
- Shoes: Make sure your child is wearing closed toe shoes that are free from anything that might get caught in the chain or other parts of the bike.
- Bright clothing: Dressing your child in bright clothing or a reflective jacket will help them be more visible to other riders and vehicles.
- Fitted clothing: As with shoes, be sure that your child’s clothing is not too loose and that backpack straps do not dangle long enough to get caught in the chain.
Once you’ve covered all the bases in ensuring your child’s back to school bike safety, enjoy knowing your child is getting regular exercise and learning the responsibility of bike ownership. And have fun riding bikes together!