Written by Halle Kendall, Accounts Manager and Advocate for Safe Kids at Pediatric Achievements!
Many of us have experienced things this past year that we may have never experienced before, all due to COVID-19! This can include increased anxiety due to the unknown effects of a new disease, weight gain (which gave me flashbacks to the so-called “freshman fifteen” in college), feelings of isolation, and either an increase in physical activity (who bought a Peloton this past year?) or a start to physical activity as part of a new routine.
People have not been able to leave their homes and social lives have been diminished. But for some, physical activity was a gateway to get our life back on track! One way people decided to do that has been through biking! Many of our children learned to ride a two-wheeled bicycle during the pandemic, and many families have been enjoying bike rides as a way to get outside and spend time together!
Biking is fun and easy to do, but it should be treated as a form of transportation much the same way a car should. Driving has rules and regulations, and biking does as well! As we head into the official start of summer, remember to discuss bike safety with your child! Although we refer to bicycles in this article, this can apply to anything with wheels, such as scooters and skateboards!
Here are some key tips on bicycle safety for you and your child:
B – BRIGHT-COLORED CLOTHING! Be sure to wear bright-colored or reflective clothing when riding a bike! Whether you are riding during the day or the evening, wearing bright colors will help others see you!! Fluorescent colors are great for kids!
I – INITIATE A CONVERSATION with your kids about bicycle safety and the rules and regulations of the road. You can never start too early! Did you know that kids under the age of 14 in Prince William County, VA are required to wear a helmet? It’s the law! Check your jurisdiction for the most current laws and regulations regarding helmets.
K – KEEP YOUR BIKE IN GOOD CONDITION! Maintenance is super important. Be sure to check your tire pressure, brakes, and chains regularly to make certain that your ride will be as smooth as possible! Talk to your child about what to do if they get a flat tire while on their bikes!
E- EVERYONE SHOULD WEAR A HELMET! (This includes you, mom & dad!) The stereotype of it being “uncool” to wear a helmet or saying, “I don’t need one because I’m only going a short distance” is very unsafe and could have very damaging consequences. Look for a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC sticker on the helmet to make sure it meets safety standards!
S – SAFETY IS A KEY COMPONENT OF BIKING! Be sure to learn the hand signals while on your bike. Teach your kids to ride on the sidewalk wherever possible and to stop at the end of each block to look both ways for cars. Never allow your child to ride in between parked cars. And be sure your child rides with a buddy- never alone!
A – Always KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILD IS GOING BEFORE THEY LEAVE THE HOUSE! Plan some times to check-in, and discuss what time they will return. For the younger children, always be outside with them!
F – Family fun time! Make biking a family event! Go outside, breathe in the fresh air of nature, and get some good physical exercise while riding! Bringing people along can be a good social event, and you can keep it socially distanced!
E – ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY BIKING! Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint? Do you want to take part in trying to get physical exercise while also saving the environment and reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere? Biking is a great way to help with that while educating our future generations on the importance of being environmentally conscious.
T – Teach your child how to ride a bike safely by modeling good behavior. Set a good example! Children learn by watching their parents, so if they see you following the rules, they will too!
Y – Your helmet and bicycle need to fit YOU! Parents, do not purchase a bike you think your kids will grow into, as this can cause your child not to be able to control the bicycle. Helmets also need to be fitted! A loose helmet won’t protect your head from severe injury. A helmet that is way too tight is just uncomfortable, so finding the right fit for you and your child is vital for a safe bike ride.
Now that summer has officially started, don’t be afraid to shake things up by trying on a new set of wheels! If you have been looking for an excuse to exercise more, have more family time, and save the environment, you can do all of these things by getting a bike. All you have to do is be smart, be safe, and enjoy the ride!
Teaching Children Bicycle Safety. Saint Luke’s Health System. (n.d.). https://www.saintlukeskc.org/health-library/teaching-children-bicycle-safety
Bicycle Safety. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.). https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.). Bicycle Safety: Myths and Facts. HealthyChildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Bicycle-Safety-Myths-And-Facts.aspx.