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There’s nothing like the freedom of a bicycle – wind in your face, trees zipping by; you’re on top of the world. Especially when you’re 10 years old! But safe bicycling requires that kids and parents heed the rules. The Safe Kids River Cities Communities Coalition offers these tips for bicyclists and parents:

Wear a helmet

Every bicyclist, young or old, should always wear a helmet. Every time. The helmet must fit properly and be worn correctly. Helmets should not rock side-to-side or back to front. If it does, use the pads or fitting ring to snug up the fit.

The chinstrap should be centered under the chin. Adjust the straps to position the buckle in the right place. When buckled, no more than one or two fingers should fit under the strap.

If the helmet is damaged or involved in a crash, replace it.

Keep your bike in good condition

Make sure the bike fits the child. Don’t purchase a bike to “grow into.” A bike that’s too big or too small can make it more difficult for the child to ride safely and react quickly.

Place reflectors on the front, back and sides of the bike. Check the bike often to make sure the reflectors are secure, the brakes work, gears shift smoothly and the tires are on tight and properly inflated. Check the chain to make sure it looks like metal – not rust or black gunk.

Ensure the seat and handlebar height is right for your child. If the bike has a quick release mechanism to adjust the seat height, make sure it’s closed tightly once the seat is properly adjusted.

Follow the rules of the road (or sidewalk)

Always follow the safety rules. Bikes in the roadway are considered vehicles and must follow the same traffic laws as vehicles. That means riding in the same direction as other traffic, stopping at stop signs and lights, signaling turns, etc.

Sidewalks are for pedestrians. Children riding on sidewalks must yield to pedestrians; exercise caution and follow the rules for pedestrians, including:
  • Walk the bike through crosswalks
  • Stop before crossing the street
  • Make eye contact with motorists to ensure that you’re seen

For more information on bicycle safety, visit safekids.org or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at nhtsa.dot.gov.

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