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Learning how to ride a bike is a major milestone for many children. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half a million people are treated each year for bicycle accidents, and 59 percent of those are children under the age of 15. About 8,000 children are injured in bicycle accidents every year, with dozens of fatalities. So before you let your little one take off, make sure you know these important safety tips.

1. Make sure the bicycle is the correct size — Don’t buy a larger bike anticipating that your child will grow into it. If your child cannot sit comfortably on the seat with his or her feet on the ground, it will be difficult to balance and poses a safety hazard.

2. Make sure training wheels are in good condition and mounted correctly — If the training wheels aren’t on right, they can’t help your child stay balanced, which can result in falls and possible injuries. Before each ride, make sure the training wheels are tight and secure.

3. Have your child wear bright colors — This makes it easier for other people to see your bike rider and helps prevent accidents.

4. Always insist on a helmet — The most dire and common injuries from bicycle accidents are head injuries. A helmet can reduce the chance of severe brain injury by 88 percent. Make sure the helmet fits snugly. If your child does have a fall, replace the helmet.

5. Keep the bike maintained — Check to be sure the handlebars and seat are tight and the chain is oiled. Also, keep the tires properly inflated, and be sure the brakes work properly.

6. Teach your child hand signals — Teach common bike signals along with the rules of the road, such as following traffic signs. A child who gets into the habit early will continue to use hand signals and follow traffic laws when older.

7. Ride in safe areas — A child cannot judge the speed and distance of cars until he or she is around 10 years old. Until that time, restrict riding to sidewalks, bike paths, and parks. No matter where your child rides, watching for cars is essential.

8. Always supervise — Until your child is older, you will want to supervise time on the bicycle. Use this time to teach bicycle safety rules, such as staying out of the road and watching for traffic. Turn this time into a fun family activity by riding your bike along with your child.

Takeaways

  • About 8,000 children were injured in bicycle accidents in 2011.
  • A helmet reduces the chance of a traumatic brain injury by 88 percent.
  • Teach hand signal and traffic laws for lifelong good habits.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Safety and Control. Bicycle Related Injuries.
  2. Loyola University Health System. Kids Riding Bikes.
  3. SafeKids.org. Bike Safety Tips.

Comments

  1. great advice!

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  2. Ooh this article is making me think a balance bike or a bike with training wheels would make a great birthday present for when my daughter turns three in October.

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    1. Yes, perfect age to start!

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  3. Great tips! My daughter is about ready for a bike!

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    1. How exciting! Hopefully these tips will help you all have a safe and fun time!

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  4. We are getting our son a bike, and can’t wait to see how he does. We all wear helmets when we ride our bikes too, so he knows everyone should for safety purposed.

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  5. Sounds like I need more info on these balance bikes! I’m going to start researching now. We just got my son a tricycle, but his legs aren’t quite long enough yet. he still like playing on it. 🙂

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  6. We are going to get a balance bike this summer for our son, so this is very helpful!

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  7. Both of my girls love riding bikes and I can’t wait for my two year old to start pedaling!! We just bought my four year old a 14 or 16 inch bike, I can’t remember, but I never measured her. I never knew about measuring according to where her feet are when she is sitting on the seat so I am going to do this tonight!

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  8. My three year old loves riding her bike. I was torn between getting her a balance bike or sticking with a traditional one. I opted for the traditional one. I felt like she would enjoy it more and get more use out of it.

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  9. Does anyone have any experience with balancing bikes? One brand example is KaZAM.

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    1. My daughter has a Y-bike balance bike. She got it when she was 2, but had little interest in it as she was already riding a bike with training wheels. Now at 4, she has now taken a huge interest with the balance bike. I really like them and am hoping that it helps teach her to ride her bike without training wheels!

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      1. I would like an update in a couple of months to see if the balance bike was a success for your daughter! I have a friend who bought one for her son and he was riding without training wheels when he was 3!

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  10. Bought my daughter a new bike recently, and learned a great tip for getting the correct size. The inch of the model (i.e. 12″, 14″, 16″) is from the crotch to the floor. So measure your little one before you go shopping- it’s more reliable that using the age range of the product.

    Reply

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