Are you an enthusiastic parent looking for opportunities to promote a healthy active lifestyle for your children, where they have physical activity and some early lessons of working independently while remaining responsible and safe? Experts say that having kids riding their bikes to school is one of the finest first steps towards early independence. We absolutely adore the idea of helping you feel ready to get your child started, find a safe route to school, and enjoy a ride together. It is never too early to enjoy a safe, fun bike commute!
Continue reading to find all the essential information that you need to make your children ready for their bike to school experience and fun.
TEACH YOUR KIDS -Bicycle Safety Tips for Children
We encourage you to review these bicycle safety tips with your children and discuss bicycle safety with your children on a regular basis.
- Always Wear a Helmet – While three out of every four children in this country ride a bicycle each month, over half of those children do not always wear a helmet when riding. Never ride a bicycle without a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 45%. California’s bicycle helmet law requires all riders under 18 to wear a helmet. Make it a rule in your house. No Helmet – No Bike!
- Check Equipment – Before riding a bicycle, you need to make sure that your tires are properly inflated, your reflectors are not broken, and your brakes are working.
- Wear Bright Colors – Wearing bright colors helps drivers see you. A brightly colored jacket or vest should be worn for bicycle safety. Make it a rule — helmet AND vest!
- Do Not Ride at Night – Children should never ride after dark without an adult and, even then, it is much more dangerous than riding in daylight.
- Obey All Traffic Laws – Review your state's Bicycles Laws with your children to make sure they understand bicycle rules and they understand how to ride in traffic.
- Do Not Cover Your Ears – Never wear headphones or cover your ears. You need to be able to see AND hear everything around you. Bicycle safety begins with being alert.
- Look Before Turning – Before you turn, stop, look and listen both ways, and LOOK AND LISTEN again before crossing.
- Check Local Laws About Riding on Sidewalks – For young children, riding on the sidewalk is usually safer than riding in the street; however, you must verify local bicycle laws regarding riding on sidewalks.
- Watch for Pedestrians – Sometimes children forget they are operating a “vehicle” when riding a bicycle. They must also watch for pedestrians and yield the right-of-way in crosswalks and in other situations.
The best way to teach your child about bicycle safety is to ride bicycles with your children. Remember, it is great exercise, a great way to spend time with your children, and the perfect way to teach bicycle safety by example. For more information on bicycle safety for children, visit NHTSA’s website or the SafeKids website.
As a parent, please ensure to know the safest bike route(s) your children will be riding to school.
Subsequently, check out routes to ensure the age-appropriateness of these routes for younger children and all age kids. You can obtain valuable information from your child’s school, which has maintained distinct databases for traffic patterns and bike entrance and exits to their school’s campus. Look for announcements for Bike to School Days in your district.
Creating Bike To School Groups - Bike Train
It goes without saying that most elementary school children are seldom at the age to ride their bike without adult supervision. Check with your school and neighbors for a bike riding group, like carpooling but biking. It is advisable to have at least one parent on board for each bike ride to supervise the group to and from school. You can always take turns in this case and set up a schedule of parents, just like a carpool. Kids love a bike train!
Essential Safety Gear
Needless to say, a well-functioning, comfortable bicycle and a well-fitted helmet are a MUST. Closed toed shoes, bright or reflective clothes, no loose clothes to get caught in the gears are other important considerations.
A bell or a horn are always fun and a good tool to alert others on the trail. Other than that, seasoned cyclists have recommended a few more essentials such as a tire patch kit, a spare inner tube, and a portable tire pump for the group. While the idea of carrying all these things may seem daunting at first, all items can conveniently fit into a backpack.
Bike Storage & Bike Locking
You should pay special attention and have a plan with your child of the locations available to store their bicycle at school, and how to lock it up with a bike lock if necessary. General rule - lock up your bike if not at home. You only need a simple, budget-friendly lock to get the bike locking process started!
The Basic Rules of Bike Riding and Bike Safety
As a parent, it should be your top priority to teach some of the basic rules of being out on the road to make them safe, aware, and independent.
- The ABC Safety Check - Before every ride, teach them to check the ABCs. Follow these rules to become a super confident rider in no time at all!
- "A” stands for air pressure. Check the tire’s air pressure.
- “B” stands for ensuring that your ‘brakes’ are functioning properly.
- “C” stands for checking the ‘chain’ of your bike.
- The Straight Line Ride - Teach your children to ride their bicycles in a rather predictable line, situational and surroundings awareness of other vehicles and riders on the road.
- The ‘Right’ Ride. When riding on the road, it should always be noted that your child rides in the bike lanes, on the sidewalk, on the path and on the right-hand side.
- Caution, Caution, Caution! ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET! And teach your children to stay extra cautious and super attentive, especially at driveways, crosswalks, and intersections. We recommend even purchasing your kids elbow and knee pads. ALWAYS LOOK AND LISTEN before proceeding on the path.
Biking to School Benefits
- Time together! Burning off some energy before a day in the classroom is a great way to start the day. Decompressing after a day in the classroom is a great way to finish the school day. Again, active time together and opportunities to bond as a family or with friends.
- Physical Activity - Increased health and fitness. Riding to school starts the cycle of living a more fit and active lifestyle that translates to all aspects of life.
Good luck cultivating the love of riding bikes in your children. Happy back to school riding!