Families

Everyone wants their kids to be safe when riding a bike. These seven tips should help

A helmet and properly fitted seat are just the beginning for making sure your child is safe while riding a bike.
A helmet and properly fitted seat are just the beginning for making sure your child is safe while riding a bike. Getty Images

Here are some things to think about when your children are ready to ride a bicycle:

▪  Make sure they have and wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet.

▪  Adjust their bicycle seat to fit. Have the child stand over the bicycle. There should be one to three inches between the child and the top tube (bar) of the bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.

▪  Teach them how to inflate tires properly and check that the brakes work.

▪  Check to see if they can see and be seen? Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather or at night, cyclists need to be seen by others. Wearing white has not been shown to make you more visible. Rather, always wear neon, fluorescent or other bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because a rider can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see them.

▪  Teach them to always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.

▪  Make sure they watch for and avoid road hazards. Riders should be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. Be sure the first rider in a group points out hazards to others.

▪  It is far more dangerous to ride at night, than during the day. If your child must ride in the dark, make sure they are wearing something that makes them more easily seen by others. Make sure their bike has reflectors on the front and rear (white lights on the front and red rear lights on the rear are recommended), in addition to reflectors on tire spokes.

Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior. These include such things as not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running a stop sign and riding the wrong way in traffic.

Safe riding

The City of Bellingham, in partnership with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, is taking measures to reduce collisions and increase responsible behavior on city streets. In just one month, five collisions (all in marked crosswalks) involving vehicles and pedestrians and a cyclist resulted in serious injuries and two deaths. Even one avoidable collision is one too many.

Bellingham is a community that cares about walkability, cycling safety and one another, said Lt. Danette Beckley, public information officer for the Bellingham Police Department.

Ensuring safety on the streets is everyone’s responsibility. It’s a responsibility the department takes seriously.

“Travel with Care” is an ongoing education and enforcement campaign intended to: foster safe driving, walking and cycling behaviors utilizing social norming; educate all users (motorists, pedestrians, cyclists) on safe behavior and rules of the road; and enforce rules of the road.

The goal is to have zero pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions. The objective to achieve that goal is to increase responsible behavior and reduce distractions and other avoidable causes of collisions.

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