Cycling is a great activity that the whole family can do together – it’s an opportunity to get out with the kids and get some exercise and fresh air. But being cycle-safe is important too, so here are 9 essential tips for safer cycling and bike safety for kids that you should keep in mind.
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Learning to ride a bicycle is a real milestone in a child’s life. I remember my youngest daughter being so determined to practice and learn so she could cycle with her bigger sister.
It’s recommended that children get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day and cycling is a good way of getting that exercise. But before your child climbs on a bike, here are some essential bike safety tips for kids:
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#1. Make sure their bicycle matches them
Their bike should match their height and also their experience. Adjust seat and handlebar height if needed. They should be able to put their feet nearly flat on the ground when the bicycle isn’t moving.
#2. Do a quick equipment check before setting off
- Is the saddle the correct height?
- Is the chain on correctly?
- Are the brakes working?
- Are the tyres nice and firm?
- Are the bell and lights working?
#3. Always wear a helmet
This is an absolute must. Make sure each child has their own safety helmet and that it fits well, not too loose, not too tight. Don’t buy one for them to grow into, get one that fits now.
#4. No loose clothing
Make sure no one is wearing any scarves or other loose clothing that could get caught in the chain or wheels.
#5. Only cycle on public roads under supervision
If your child is under 12, then they should only cycle on public roads under the supervision of an adult.
#6. Like all road users, cyclists must obey the Rules of the Road
Cyclists need to obey the same rules of the road as every other road user. Stopping at red lights, understanding and heeding road signs and markings is for the good of everyone’s safety, including theirs.
#7. Be visible in dark or dusky conditions
If cycling when dark or when it’s starting to get dark, make sure every bike has a working front and back light. Wear high-viz armbands or jackets to make sure you’re visible to other road users.
#8. Park your bike safely
When parking your bike, give some thought to other people. Use a cycle stand if possible and make sure you lock your bike to something secure.
#9. Be in control of your bike
Don’t take any unnecessary risks. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack rather than dangling them off your handlebars.
Good Resources for Bike Safety
- The Road Safety Authority Ireland have a very good Cycle Safety booklet you can download for free.
- National Bike Week takes place every year with free events open to people of all ages and cycling abilities. A complete listing of events taking place throughout the country and important tips on cycling safety can be found by logging on to Bikeweek.ie
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has some good tips on Kids and Bicycle Safety
- Think! from the UK Department for Transport has a good page of information for cyclists
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