Riding a bike can be fun, healthy and a good way for children to become more and more independent.
However, it is important to always be aware of the dangers associated with cycling.
Below we've put together some useful bicycle safety tips to help you make sure your children are as safe as possible when out enjoying a bike ride...
Always wear a helmet
Every time someone has a serious accident on a bike, they always say something along the lines of: "If I wasn't wearing a helmet it would have been a lot more serious". A well fitted bicycle helmet can protect your child from suffering a severe head injury, and should be worn at all times when cycling.
Make sure the bike is the right size
As all parents know, children can grow at a rapid pace so it's not uncommon for them to find themselves on bikes that are a little too big or too small. This can pose risks though, so it's important that their bicycle can be adjusted to fit their size. As a general rule, there should be a gap of between 1 and 2 inches from the top tube of the bike frame to the child on a road bike, and between 3 and 4 inches on a mountain back. The bicycle seat should always be level and locked firmly in place, and the height should be just enough to allow a slight bend of the knee when pedalling. The handlebars should then be set at the same height as the seat.
Check the bike before riding
You don't need to do anything too technical here - just ensure the tyres are inflated properly and that the brakes are functioning.
Whether your child is riding during the day, the evening or at night, make sure that what they are wearing will be visible to motorists. Neon, fluorescent or other bright colours work best for this. it is also recommended that the bicycle itself has light reflectors on.
Ride sensibly and carefully
Children should always ride with at least one hand controlling the handlebars. If they are carrying items like schoolbooks with them then make sure they have a good carrier or rucksack. It is important to always stay focused on riding and looking out for potential hazards like potholes, puddles, ice, gravel and broken glass - which can cause accidents and injuries.
A lot of bicycle accidents that result in serious injury are caused by the cyclists behaviour - from not wearing a helmet or reflective clothing to not following the rules of the road e.g. onto a road without stopping and looking, swerving into traffic, running through a Stop sign.
To be sure of your child's safety on the road, make sure they are aware of the rules of the road and the dangers of not following them...
Go WITH the flow of traffic
When riding on the road, always ride on the left going in the same direction as other vehicles.
All traffic laws apply to cyclists as well
If you're on the road on a bike, then you are effectively the driver of a vehicle and as such all the rules of the road apply - so all lane markings, traffic signals etc... apply to you just as much as other vehicles.
If you are riding with the traffic, other vehicles approaching from the rear will see you and go round you easily if you are riding in a consistent straight line. Any sudden movements and swerves into the road can therefore cause accidents so make sure you always ride in a predictable fashion and clearly signal your intended movements.
Riding on busy roads can be dangerous, as potential hazards come and go in rapid succession. It's important then to always stay focused and alert - and make use of all your senses. Watch out for road defects, oncoming traffic, pedestrians, big puddles, wet leaves and anything else that could cause an accident. You also need to be able to hear what's going on around you, so don't use headphones when cycling on the road.
Be careful when passing stationary vehicles
Parked cars and stationary buses at bus stops can be very dangerous to cyclists, so you need to be wary of them at all times. Car doors can suddenly open and buses can pull out at any time, so take extra care when passing them.
Full library of resources to learn more about the different types of personal injury and the claims processPersonal Injury Resources