The Safety Concerns when Teaching Children to Ride Bikes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bicycle safetyCycling is fun and is a good way for your children to transport themselves around the neighbourhood. If you want to teach them to ride a bicycle, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Children are usually ready to start learning at age five, but consider your own child's unique level of development before you start teaching. He or she should be able to run and jump with good balance and motor control. 
  • All cyclists should wear helmets to protect them from serious head injuries, so find a helmet that fits and even one that is fun.
  • The correct bike size is determined by the child's height. A child should be able to stand over the top tube with both feet planted on the ground. A larger bike will be too heavy and unwieldy to control properly.
  • Teach them in a space that is traffic free, paved and free of bumps. You do not want painful accidents early on that will make them change their minds. Start your younger children on bikes with training wheels. Work on balance before you move to practicing steering so they do not fall once they learn to turn.
  • Before you permit your children to cycle alone outside your property, take them for several family rides during which they follow and copy you. 
  • First take them on quiet sidewalks before you allow them in the streets. They must be comfortable with avoiding obstacles before they cycle among vehicles.
  • Before you allow your children to cycle in the streets, they should understand that cyclists have to follow the same rules of the road that motorists do. Teach them about traffic lights, right of way, traffic circles, pedestrian crossings, stop signs and so on. They should not be allowed on the roads before they are letter perfect.
  • Teach them to cycle with traffic, rather than towards or adjacent to it. If this is impossible because of infrastructure, warn them to be especially careful when approaching intersections, including small ones like driveways and parking lots.
  • Warn them to wear bright clothing at all times so they are visible to motorists.
Bike riding should be fun, but should also be safe. Have a zero-tolerance policy towards recklessness from the start.