Generally, kids love to cycle. It is fun and improves their ability to be independent just by getting around. Moreover, cycling has numerous health benefits, including improving mental health. Reliable health statistics reveal that children who cycle to school perform exquisitely in academics due to their ability to stay focused and alert. The good thing is that children can begin cycling as early are two years old; therefore, there is no need to wait until they are older.
While cycling is simple and fun, it involves numerous possible dangers. Following updates from the CDC, nearly 1000 people die in bicycle accidents in the United States every year. A considerable percentage of this number are children under 20 years. It is time for your kid to learn how to ride a bike, but you are unsure how to handle the situation. Perhaps, your child is already a cyclist, although you are worried for their safety. Although California’s drivers have a duty to care, a proactive approach is always best. Here are some helpful guidelines to improve your child’s safety on cycles.
Helmets are Mandatory
The majority of life-threatening injuries are head-related traumas. Statistics reveal that wearing a helmet increases the chances of survival by roughly 85%. Ensure that your child wears a helmet before going out for a ride, whether around the neighborhood or having to cover quite a distance. Helmets come in many designs and colors. Multiple companies have fancy designs for children. To make it better, let your child pick out their preferred helmet. They will always want to have it on, even without your supervision. However, verifying that the helmet is a proper fit would be best. The right one should not tip towards the front or back. Additionally, educate your child about the benefits of wearing a helmet and the dangers of missing one. This makes them more compelled to always have it while on their cycles.
Aerodynamics requires one to have correctly fitted clothing while cycling. Poorly fitted clothes may get stuck in parts of the bike and cause accidents. Experts recommend attires that are light and well-fitted. Clothes made of heavy materials like jeans are improper for cyclists as they can be very uncomfortable for the knees. A child will focus more on the effort required to peddle rather than staying alert on the road. The consequences may be fatal. Other than that, gloves come in handy. Most cyclists suffer friction-associated bruises, gradually becoming uncomfortable or even painful. Good-quality set of gloves keeps the hands moist, thus reducing friction. Wrist and knee pads are also significant as they lessen the chances of having severe injuries in case of an accident.
Perform a Safety Check
Always perform a safety check before the child leaves, even if the bike seems to be in good condition. Any loose spot can cause harm.
- Brakes: Brakes are crucial parts of a bicycle. Fortunately, it is easy to tell if something is wrong. When you squeeze the brake levers, all the pads should be engaging.
- Chain Lubrication: A chain snap or jam on the road can be dangerous. Do a thorough check to ensure there is enough lubrication. Also, closely inspect the chain for any damage or wear. You can do this by pedaling the chain backward. While at it, verify that the pedals are okay. Conclude by cleaning the chain with a rag and tiny brush to remove dirt particles.
- Frame: Run your fingers along the length of the frame to feel if there are any dents or cracks. Riding a bike with a crack is never a reasonable idea. Even if a crack is small and seems harmless, it is best to consult a specialist. Besides that, check for bends. A moderately bent frame is easily repairable, but if the bend is incredible, it is best to install a new one.
- Tires: You must replace the tires if there is too much wear and tear. There has to be enough grasp between the tires and the ground. Apart from that, wheel rotation should be natural and smooth. If there is any wobbling and grinding sound, a service is advisable. Do not forget to check the pressure: it should never be too much or too little. Lastly, inspect the wheels for punctures.
- Stem: The stem should be firm, holding the handlebar properly. Tighten any loose bolts and nuts.
Children are smaller in size than adults. That said, motorists may have a difficult time noticing them. Thus, they should wear reflective gear. You can also customize their bikes to have reflectors. It is also advisable to wear bright-colored clothing such as neon and fluorescent, among others, including during daylight. When driving at dusk, always use the front and rear lights as the visibility is low.
Teach Children to Stay Alert
Young kids and teenagers may not know how to plan because their brains are still developing. For that reason, they tend to make mistakes when faced with uncertainties. It, therefore, would help to teach them how to react rapidly and think critically if they come across something new and unusual. For instance, what is the right step to take when they stumble upon a pothole? Brakes may sometimes fail despite encountering a ditch or an oncoming vehicle. Empowering your kids with the knowledge that improves their cycling skills is noteworthy.
Instill Cycling Courtesy
Kids love the thrill that comes with cycling. Unlike adults who mostly want kip fit, children marvel at speed, freedom, and performing crazy stunts. This is dangerous not only on busy streets but also along clear paths. It would help if you thus taught your children about cycling courtesy. They ought to be aware that taking the right action while on the road saves their lives and those of motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists. Taking the bicycle path where necessary and avoiding riding between cars are basic cycling courtesy.
Find the Right Bike
There are all kinds of fancy bikes in the market. This should not mislead your child into choosing the wrong merchandise. Help the kid select a bicycle, depending on the size and not age. Many parents make mistakes by selecting bikes that the children should grow into. This is dangerous and less helpful in improving cycling skills. For small kids who are just learning to cycle, their feet should firmly touch the ground when they are on the seat. Additionally, bicycles should be the proper fit to develop balancing and pedaling skills. Fortunately, most companies provide a kids bike sizes chart to help you select the best fit.
Encourage Your Child to Adhere to Road Rules
The safest way to prevent life-threatening situations is to follow all the road rules. Explain to your child every law and why it is significant to stick to them. Below are the basic rules of cycling.
Ride in the same direction as other vehicles.
- Avoid road hazards.
- Avoid riding at night unless necessary.
- Wear your helmet.
- Think ahead.
- Maintain eye contact with motorists and other cyclists.
- Adhere to the traffic signals.
- Make your intentions clear to other road users.
- Avoid the sidewalks to protect pedestrians.
- Make use of reflectors.
Cycling is a simple, fun activity but comes with numerous possible dangers. With the escalating rate of cyclists losing their lives and getting life-threatening injuries on roads, it is advisable to teach young children and teenagers about bike safety. Whether a child is riding for fun or advancing into professional cycling skills, mastering basic cycling knowledge keeps them safe.