First of all – great choice! Bicycles are perfect for encouraging your child to live a healthy, active lifestyle, as well as being a fun new hobby. Whether it’s their first one or an upgrade on their current model, don’t forget to consider their safety before they take it out for a spin.
In winter it can be tempting to toss your sneakers into the cupboard and opt for a bowl of popcorn on the couch instead, but the health benefits of regular exercise include lower blood pressure, improved muscle tone and it can boost your immune system. If you’re interested in taking a proactive approach to your and your family’s health this new year, read more about the benefits of medical insurance, which include 24-hour telephone access to health professionals.
Meanwhile, here are some handy tips for keeping your family safe when they are enjoying their new bikes:
Before you take it out for a spin
Even if you tested it out in the store, check that the bike is roadworthy after it’s been unwrapped and the excitement is fresh. Give the brakes a test, check the tyres over for any defects and test any lights or bells. This is good way to teach your child basic safety tips and how to properly care for the bike as well.
Don’t forget the essentials
Although kids often hate wearing them, helmets are the single most effective safety measure you can take while cycling. According to safekids.org, helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injury by up to 88%, and yet only 45% of kids wear them! Look for a helmet that has been certified to meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards and fits properly before they take their first ride.
The helmet should be snug, sit level on your child’s head and fasten properly under the chin. Also, make sure you are leading by example and wear your helmet every time you use your own bike – you want to encourage your child to pick up good safety habits that will last a lifetime. Cycling while listening to music should also be discouraged as it can block out the sound of oncoming vehicles.
If your child is just starting out or isn’t quite stable on their own yet, buy some protective pads for their elbows and knees. High visibility clothing, such as vests or harnesses, will also be useful during the winter months when evenings are still dark to alert any oncoming drivers that your child is nearby.
Go off road
Before venturing out into the street, take your child to a local park or pathway to try out their new bike. Grass will help to soften any falls and there will be more space to practice before being near any traffic, it will also add extra traction to aid stability. You might also want to consider signing your child up for a bike safety course to ensure they learn proper hand signalling and traffic rules.
Remember, if you’re teaching your child how to ride it may take several days or weeks before they can go it alone. Don’t rush them, just offer support at whatever speed they are most comfortable learning at!
Do you have any tips for teaching children to be bike safe?
Image by Nicki Varkevisser (Flickr)