The weather outside is perfect, your friends are ready to play, and you have just woken up from a very refreshing nap. At a time like this, what could be better than a bike ride? But, before you take off down the street, let's learn some safety rules.
Every year, many kids go to the emergency department because of a bicycle accident. This is why wearing a bike helmet is super important. Though a bike helmet may not look the "coolest," it can definitely help you big time if you fall or wreck. Here's a quick run-down of what makes a good bike helmet and how you can get the most from a helmet.
Always Wear a Helmet
No matter how great the helmet is, wearing some kind of protection is better than not wearing any. The fit of your helmet on your head is almost as important as the helmet itself. This means you should always fasten your safety straps to the right level to have a firm, snug grip on your head. This way, your helmet will not fall off when you most need it. Also, handle your helmet with care around the garage or house to make sure it is in a good, sturdy condition.
Is Your Bike the Right Size?
Now that you have the helmet figured out, it's time to ride! But wait, is your bike the right size for you? To see whether your bike is the right size, stand with your feet flat on the ground straddling your bike. In this stance, there should be 1 to 3 inches of space between you and your handlebars. Here's a quick cheat sheet of how your parents can make sure your bike is in good shape:
- Check the tires, handlebars, and seat to make sure they fit securely and tightly.
- Check and oil your bike chain on a regular basis.
- Check the bike brakes to make sure they are not sticking and work properly.
- Check the air pressure in your tires to make sure they have enough air.
When you go out to ride your bike, make sure you are wearing bright colors and have reflectors on your bike so cars will see you. You will want to avoid large backpacks and baggy clothing that may interfere with your ability to ride safely. This also includes not riding with an iPod or portable CD player.
Also, check with mom and dad on where you plan on riding. There may be construction on certain streets or traffic may be particularly heavy at certain times in specific areas. Parents will be able to navigate you to safe areas, such as neighborhood bike paths. Always bring water and watch out for objects in the road such as speed bumps, curbs, puddles or sticks, and especially other riders or small children.
Follow the Rules
When riding on the street, always follow these road rules:
- Always ride with both hands on the handlebars.
- Stop and check for traffic from both directions before crossing or entering streets.
- Cross at intersections that are clearly marked so drivers will see you and stop. If traffic is very busy, it is easier and safer to walk, rather than ride, your bike across the street by using crosswalks and following the traffic lights.
- Always ride with the flow of traffic. This means always ride on the right hand side of the road. Never ride against the flow of traffic!
- If riding with friends always ride single file.
- Stop at all street signs and obey traffic lights just as cars do.
By following these bike safety rules, you will have a much smaller chance of becoming one of those kids sent to the emergency room and will have a very large chance of having a fun and happy bike ride!