Tips To Keep Kids Safe While Riding Their Bike
Welcome to the start of a new school year! My son just entered 7th grade and my daughter is a freshman (yikes!) After being at the same school for two years, they are now at two different locations. I am urging my son to ride his bike to school whenever possible this year so that I’m not always having to go in two different directions.
Every time I send my son off on his bike my heart beats a little faster knowing that his safety is at risk. It seems like drivers are more distracted, impatient, and reckless than ever before and it’s scary to think about what can happen in the blink of an eye. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of riding around town with my best friend for hours on end. We loved to race down hospital hill, ride to the store for Hostess treats and simply just have the freedom to go wherever/whenever we wanted. I don’t want to deny my kids similar memories, but I want to send them out into the streets armed with knowledge that will hopefully keep them a little safer. Today, I’m sharing the reminders that I give my own kiddos before they head off on a bike ride.
Always wear your helmet.
This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but I continue to see kids riding bikes, scooters and skateboards without their helmet. There was one middle school boy I would pass every morning carrying instead of wearing his helmet while riding. I remind my kids that they need to wear a helmet without exception. If I recognize a kiddo that is making a poor safety choice, I don’t hesitate to let the parents know, and I would hope that the same would be done for me. I would feel awful if something happened and I hadn’t spoken up. My son was becoming resistant to wearing his helmet because the style was no longer cool. I remember how important it was to fit in during middle school. I was guilty of slipping my neck gear into my backpack as soon as my parents were out of sight rather than be seen wearing it at school. I don’t want my son to be tempted to do the same with his helmet.
Stand back from the curb while waiting to cross the street.
It can be so easy for a vehicle to misjudge a turn and take a corner too sharply. I suggest that my kids stand three steps back from the curb to avoid getting clipped by a car accidentally.
Wait 3 seconds after a light changes before crossing the street.
This allows for vehicles that were trying to make it across before the light turned red a few extra seconds to clear the intersection before crossing.
Make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of a vehicle.
Twice the blindspot on my SUV has kept a pedestrian completely out of my line of sight until I have started to make the turn. Luckily, I have been able to stop safely mid-turn as soon as I spot them. If I had accelerated a little faster, I hate to think what could have happened. I tell my kids to never assume that a driver has seen them until they make actual eye contact. That is the only way to assure that it is safe to cross.
When riding on the street always travel in the same direction as traffic.
Riding against traffic is probably the most common mistake I see kids make on a regular basis. As a kid, I remember feeling safer riding in the opposite direction of traffic because I was more comfortable being able to see the traffic coming towards me versus having approaching traffic at my back. I changed my ways once I realized how dangerous riding against traffic can be when going around a curve or turning a corner. It is important to explain the “why” behind safety rules. Kids are less likely to question the validity of a rule if they understand the the purpose behind it.
Don’t look at your phone while riding your bike.
I was recently driving through a nearby neighborhood when I saw a boy looking at his phone while riding his bike down the street. He was riding against the flow of traffic and headed directly down the middle of my lane. There was another car coming from the opposite direction, so I was unable to swerve to the left. I honked and he glanced up with enough time to swerve back towards the side of the road. Even if my car was completely stopped he would have ridden right into the front of my SUV had I not honked. Teaching our kids the importance of having their hands free of a device when they are riding their bikes now will hopefully carry over to driving in just a few short years.
Share which route you will be traveling.
Often times there are several different routes my kids can choose to take when biking to a destination. I like to discuss which route will be safest with my kids before they head out. We tend to choose trails over city streets and crosswalks at intersections over signaled crosswalks. Drivers unfamiliar with neighborhoods can often overlook a signaled crosswalk and breeze right through. Vehicles are more likely to stop at a signaled intersection. I also like to know the route my child is taking so that if they don’t make it home safely, I will know where to start looking for them. I have Find My Friends enabled through our Apple Family Sharing plan so that I can look up their location if they are running late.
Many of these tips came about because of situations I encountered. I realized that my kids might not possess the common sense needed when out their own that feels intuitive to many adults. I feel better reminding them of something they already knew, than to assume they possessed the knowledge in the first place.
Do you have any bike safety tips I didn’t mention? Praying that all our kiddos have a safe and successful school year!