Bicycle Safety for Kids
Bicycling can be a great activity for children—if they know the basic safety routines. The following guidelines can make it easier for you to get your child into the bike safety habit.
Dress for safety.
- Let your child pick out his own helmet and insist that he always wears it, even on short rides. (Go to Helmet Buying Tips for buying advice.)
- Always wear your helmet and encourage the parents of your children's friends to buy helmets for their kids.
- Add reflective stripes on the helmet and to clothing, and install lights and reflectors on the bike.
- Children should ALWAYS wear shoes when biking! Avoid sandals or bare feet, loose laces, floppy pant legs and long scarves.
Plan a safe cycling route with your children.
- Start with sidewalks and bike paths, gradually introducing roads with vehicle traffic.
- Ride the route at different times of the day—the amount of traffic can vary significantly.
- Find safe areas where your child can secure his bike when he isn't riding it (at a playground or store, for example).
Discuss safe biking strategies.
- Encourage your child to ride with a buddy instead of alone.
- Discuss what he should do in case of an accident or if followed or approached by a stranger on foot or in a car.
- Warn your child of the dangers in doing tricks or stunt-riding with his bike.
- Teach your child how to perform a safety check of his bike: tire pressure, chain condition, brakes, seat adjustment.
- Cover road rules, including riding on the right side of the road with traffic, stopping at all intersections, including those where streets cross alleys and driveways. (For more information, read the Bicycle Traffic Laws Guide.
- Teach the hand signals:
Right Turn: Upper arm straight out parallel to the road, forearm and hand straight up and perpendicular to the road (Some states allow a right turn with your right arm straight out and parallel to the road)
Left Turn: Arm straight out and parallel to the road.
Braking: Upper arm straight out parallel to the road, forearm and hand straight down and perpendicular to the road
Always signal with your left hand.
Check out our blog entry for more bike safety tips for your kids.