From those earliest attempts to master balance to taking that first solo trip to a friend’s house, learning to ride a bike is more than just a fun way to get exercise; it is a step toward gaining new independence and new responsibility.
While every child is different, it is generally safer for children under age 10 to ride on a sidewalk or bike path. In addition to having a narrower field of vision than adults, younger kids may have difficulty recognizing potential hazards, especially from drivers who may not be paying attention.
However, it is never too early to begin teaching, and modeling, safe bicycling practices.
1. Make sure kids understand the risks at intersections
Whether riding on a path, sidewalk or bike lane, parents should explain the importance of treating every intersection with extra caution. Kids should understand that they should always stop and look left, right and left again before crossing a street, even if they are at a marked and/or signaled crosswalk.
2. Remind children that drivers do not always follow the rules
Just as important as teaching kids basic road rules is teaching them that drivers may not always follow those rules or may not be paying attention.
Parents should reinforce that it is important for children to make sure a driver has seen them before crossing. It is also a good idea to remind kids to be alert in areas where drivers may have reduced visibility, such as driveways, parking lots or alleys.
3. Emphasize the importance of wearing a helmet
A properly-fitting helmet may reduce the chance of child head injury by at least 45%. To make sure kids wear their protective gear consistently, parents can set a good example by doing the same themselves, whether riding alone or as a family.