Many people who learned how to ride a bike at an early age have found it to be an increasingly useful skill in today’s world. While biking has always been a life skill, as the world faces environmental pressures and trends towards a more sedentary lifestyle, going somewhere on a bike is an effective way to get great exercise while reducing your carbon footprint.
Teaching children how to bike has always been a rite of passage, a way of bonding with them while helping them take a small step forward in self-confidence and independence. But modern living also carries dangers for experienced cyclists and beginners alike.
With growing numbers of cyclists on the road, riding a bike has become the most common athletic activity resulting in brain injury – resulting in nearly twice as many injuries as football, among adults and kids alike. In a city such as Los Angeles where cars abound, the number of accidents has dramatically risen in recent years. You should always teach your kids safety first before the need for a doctor or attorney arises. Here are three safety essentials to remember.
Wear a helmet
Studies show that up to 85% of head injuries sustained when cycling could have been prevented by wearing a helmet. Cyclists of all ages might not be wearing helmets for reasons of comfort, or because it ‘looks cool’ to ride without one. But considering the numbers, and the serious consequences of such an injury, it is simply silly not to wear your helmet every time you get on the bike.
When teaching your kids how to bike, make it mandatory that they wear a helmet – even if they’re only riding circles around the yard. You should also set an example by wearing yours at all times. Ensure that everyone has a helmet that fits comfortably. And you find ways to make helmets cool – there are plenty of sleek designs out there, and customization options for kids to express their personality.
It’s important to get your kids in the habit of wearing the right gear for any sport, and cycling is no exception. Even if they’re only riding for leisure in the park or around the block, kids need to mind what they are wearing in order to be safe.
Properly fitting clothes and shoes with a good grip are the basics. You want to pedal correctly and effectively with nothing getting in the way. As they move out onto the road, remind your kids to wear bright colors, and get them reflective clothing. If they are prone to sweaty palms, gloves can help with their grip on the handlebars.
There are many simple safety rules we take for granted whenever we go out on the road – whether as pedestrians, drivers, or cyclists. And your child needs to learn them all – along with safety rules for the bike itself – if they are going to bike safely.
You can look for ways to make this simple and fun; there are checklist mnemonics, for example, making the steps easier for kids to learn. But the best way to go about it is to drill them every time simply. It can be tedious, but everyone is sure to learn by repetition. Just try to balance the fun of riding a bike with the duty of ensuring that all safety steps are being followed.
As your kids grow and take further steps, there are many other safety practices to learn. Riding a bike is a skill for life – make sure that safety goes with it, too.