Some of the most common injuries that children between the ages 5 and 10 suffer are from bicycle accidents. Many parents fail to prepare properly and train their children before their first bike ride. Some parents feel that children should learn bike safety by way of trial and error. Parents have this misconception that children should learn things the way they did as children. Some parents do not understand the importance of teaching their children bike safety in an increasingly complex world.
There are now new rules and regulations concerning bike riding and bicycle safety. One major new law is that anyone riding a bike must use safety gear like helmets and lights. Bike riders must learn how to share the road with cars (and vice versa). Also, parents must understand that they cannot allow their children to ride their bikes alone on the streets and must teach them to stay on the sidewalk. When your child is first learning how to ride a bike, you must be there to teach them how to do so safely.
Step One: Choose the right bike for your child’s age, weight, and height
As a child, I can remember being given my older siblings’ old toys like their bike. Unfortunately, my dad failed to adjust the bike handles and bike seat for me. This caused many uncomfortable rides for several months until finally my mother stepped in. When passing down a bike to a younger child ensure that you, as the parent, adjust the bike handles and bike seat to the younger child’s body measurements.
Parents must ensure that any bike they purchase is age-appropriate and not too much for the child to handle. The best first bikes for a child should be a tricycle or bike with training wheels. This will ensure that your child learns how to stay balanced on the bike and not fall off. No matter what, do not take the training wheels off the child’s bike until they can balance themselves. Also, it is always good to have the bicycle store adjust the handles and seat to meet the height and weight of the child.
Step Two: Ensure that your child has the right sized helmet
I remember when I was a kid learning how to ride a bike, my father pushed the bike and ran alongside me until he felt I could stay on. I learned the hard way how to ride a bike and some pretty easy ways to fall off — I think I must have injured every part of my body when I first learned how to ride a bike.
Since the late 1990s, many states require that bicyclists wear helmets and safety gear. Prior to 1990, about 1 in 20 children was seriously injured from a bike accident. But, after 1990 when laws required bicyclists to wear helmets and protective gear, the number of children being seriously injured from bike accidents decreased to 1 in 50 children.
No matter when a child learns how to ride a bike, they are going to fall and suffer minor scrapes and bruises — but with the proper safety gear, the child will not be seriously injured. Even in the event of a major spill, a good helmet should leave your child in shape to get back on the horse, so-to-speak, after a brief trip to one of Night Lite’s pediatric care centers.
Step Three: Ensure that your child has all of the proper safety gear
Just like having the right size safety helmet, your child should have the right body gear like elbow pads and knee pads. Some children do not like to wear elbow pads or knee pads because they feel that they cannot control the bike with the safety gear on. Some parents have the belief that their children do not need any safety gear on when riding a bike because bikes are easy to handle.
But, ensuring that your child has on the proper safety gear like helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads are good to protect the child from serious injuries. You would rather your child suffer a sprained ankle than a broken leg. Long hours in the emergency room can be avoided if your child has on the proper safety gear when riding their bike.
Step Four: Ensure that your child understands the rules of the road
Sometimes, parents will focus on how to ride a bike but overlook teaching them the rules for riding a bike on the road. There have been many bike accidents on the road due to bicyclists not following the road rules. Unfortunately, many of the involved cyclists receive serious injuries. One of the main problems is that motorists are not able to see bicyclists in their blind side or when it’s dark outside. Even worse, many motorists don’t know how to handle sharing the road with people on bicycles — all the more important that your child is properly educated on how to behave.
Parents must teach their children the importance of bike safety when it comes to riding their bikes in the streets. The child must understand that they have to ride against traffic so that motorists can see them at all times. Also, the child must wear the proper gear when riding their bike at night to be seen by motorists. This will ensure that the motorist does not hit the child unintentionally.
Step Five: Parents must set an example
Parents must understand that children imitate everything we do. We are our children’s first role models. If our children see us doing dangerous things, they will think it is okay to do so as well. Parents sometimes fail to realize the fact that children watch everything we do. They pick up on our good habits as well as our bad habits.
Parents must ensure that they wear proper safety gear like a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads when riding their bikes. Try to make bike riding a family event, especially when your child is first learning — it will help them to develop safe habits as well as giving your family a healthy and fun activity to bond over.
About the author:
Lautaro Martinez is a freelance writer and family man who contributes articles and advice about child care and development, as well as insights into the blessings and challenges of family life.
Photo by Laura Blankenship, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.