For many children, a bicycle is their first taste of real freedom. Once they get the training wheels off, they may be able to cruise around your neighborhood freely with your blessing. Not only are they getting fresh air and exercise, but they can also socialize with their friends while doing so.
Unfortunately, bicycles are a significant source of risk and injury for children in Colorado. Children can wind up hurt if they take a spill off of their bike or if they get into a crash with a motor vehicle. Thankfully, there are steps that you can take that will help mitigate the risk that your child faces while out biking.
Invest in safety equipment, and make sure your child uses it
Most children will roll their eyes and groan when a parent tells them to put on a helmet before getting on their bike. Safety gear just doesn’t seem cool to kids. As a parent, it is your job to make sure that your child has a helmet in good condition and that fits them properly. Depending on your child’s age and their rate of growth, you may need to replace the helmet every year.
Make sure your child knows the consequences for not using the helmet. Refusing to let them bike for a certain number of days if you catch them going out without their helmet is one potential penalty. Taking away their electronics for a few days may be more effective, however, as children may think to themselves that they don’t mind leaving the bike in the garage if they can just stay home and play video games.
Make sure your child knows how to bike on the road, and limit the area they bike
Most of the time, it is not appropriate or legal to bike on the sidewalk. Bicycles are technically vehicles, which means they belong on the road. Your child needs to know the safety rules for sharing the road with vehicles. Make sure they understand how to use hand signals or take the time to install a turn signal system on the bike.
Once your child knows how to travel with the flow of traffic and comply with traffic signage, you also want to talk to them about where they can bike. Keeping them off of busy streets will usually reduce their risk. There may be some roads that they can travel by themselves, others they can travel with friends or siblings, and also roads that they can only bike on when you or your spouse are present.