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Bike Safety Tips for Bicycle Safety Month
May 11, 2010 - 8:21pm — GettingOutside
May is Bicycle Safety Month, a perfect time to discuss bike safety with your kids, encouraging them to become responsible for their own safety on and around bicycles.
Start by discussing the importance of using a safe bike and riding safely. Explain the different parts of a bike and how to do a safety check before riding. Help your kids understand that, like a car or truck, a bicycle is a vehicle and must obey traffic laws (a fact many adults don’t seem to know).
Make wearing a helmet mandatory. No helmet - no bike riding – no exceptions! Teach your kids by showing them the right example. (If you don't own your own bike helmet, go out and get one of your own before you go riding with a young, impressionable child who will think, "If Daddy doesn't wear a helmet when he rides his bike, then I don't have to either!")
“Research shows that properly worn bike helmets can reduce the risk of serious head and brain injury by as much as 85 percent,” Diana Read, Injury/Violence Program coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Health said. “Modeling helmet use as an adult and starting the helmet habit with children at an early age increases their chances of wearing a helmet when they are older. Begin when children are riding tricycles and continue when they ride bicycles.”
If you’re a motorist, give bikes a brake!
“Warmer weather is returning and more bicyclists are out on the roads,” said Tom Norman, director of NCDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Division. “We urge both bicyclists and motorists to share the road and to travel responsibly.”
Bike Safety Check
Review the mechanics of a bike check-up with your kids. Remind them to make sure the bell or horn works, the lights or reflectors can easily be seen, and any worn or broken pedals are replaced. Is the air pressure correct? Is the seat too high or too low? Have your children hang the checklist near where their bikes are kept as a reminder to do a safety check whenever the bikes are used.
Rules of the Road
Ride a bike along with your child and administer a safe biking test. Remind the rider that broken bike laws will mean a temporary loss of riding privileges.
Lead by example. Obey all applicable traffic regulations, signs, signals, and markings. Bicycles are subject to the same rules of vehicular traffic, wherever they apply, so teach your kids what the rules are and obey them yourself.
The rule we see broken most frequently, by kids and adults alike is: Keep right: drive with traffic, not against it.
Use common sense! Drive your bike defensively; watch out for the other guy. Cars, trucks and even motorcycles have much more mass than you do on your bike, and many of the drivers are oblivious to cyclists.
Drive single file. Keep as close to the curb as practical, while watching out for drain grates, soft shoulders and other road surface hazards. Don’t forget to watch out for car doors opening or for cars pulling into traffic. (This is a great self-centered reason to avoid sidewalks, if obeying the law isn’t good enough for you.)
Don’t carry passengers or packages that interfere with your vision or control. Never hitch a ride on a truck or other vehicle.
Be extremely careful at intersections, especially when making a left turn. Most accidents happen at intersections. If traffic is heavy, get off and walk your bike with pedestrian traffic.
Use hand signals to indicate turning or stopping.
Protect yourself at night with the required reflectors and lights. Drive a safe bike. Have it inspected.
Bicycle Helmet Tips and Tricks
Kids are smart. Explain to your children why a helmet is important. Remind your kids that anyone can get hurt anywhere at any time, and that since you love them very much, you want them protected.
Let your children help pick out their helmets, making sure they comply with Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. Make sure the helmets fit correctly – see tips below. A helmet that does not fit properly most likely won’t be worn. Get professional advice about adjusting the helmet to your child’s head. (A good reason to shop at a real bike shop.)
Praise your kids each time they wear a helmet. And remember that a helmet is meant to withstand one crash – after that it should be replaced.
“National Bicycle Safety Month is the perfect time to remind all bicycle riders – and especially children – that the first and most important step in bicycle safety is wearing a helmet and wearing it correctly,” said North Dakota State Health Officer Terry Dwelle, M.D. “Because we know helmets are the single most effective thing people can do to avoid injuries and deaths, everyone must make wearing a helmet a priority.”
Snug Bike Helmet Guidelines:
Improperly wearing a helmet can be more dangerous than not wearing one at all. Buy a helmet that fits correctly, and make sure it is always worn properly. Use the following guidelines:
Make sure no more than three fingers fit between the chin and the helmet strap.
When pushing the helmet from the back forward, the helmet should not touch the bridge of the nose. It should sit securely and squarely one or two fingers above the eyebrow.
When pushing the helmet upward and back from the front, the helmet should not go above the forehead.
The most common place for a bike to be stolen is from your home. But bikes have been stolen from parks, schools, stores, and libraries. A bike can be stolen from just about anywhere that anyone would park one! The most important thing to know is that MOST STOLEN BIKES WERE NOT LOCKED!
If you bought a new bike in the last few years, the bike shop may have registered it for you. Most states and many municipalities offer some form of registration online. You can also register your bike at http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com.
Now, you need to mark the bike. Marking your bike means you engrave your parents’ driver’s license number on the bicycle using the Property Marking Code: ST 22222 DL. The first two letters are the abbreviation of your state, the number is where the driver’s license number goes, and the DL is the abbreviation for Driver’s License. Using the Marking Code helps protect you, serving as a deterrent to would-be biker thieves. It also helps the police in identifying and returning a found or stolen bike to the owner. Many bike shops will do this for you when you buy it, and many police departments will help you with this too.
There are many different locks, chains, cables, and bicycle locking devices available. Some are much stronger than others. You can tell by comparing the thickness of cables, thickness of the shackle on the lock and whether the lock is "case" hardened. Don’t be afraid to ask the salesman any questions you might have. Buy the best lock you can afford and whatever it is, USE IT. Lock your bike to something, like a bike rack. The best lock and chain is useless if you leave it wrapped around the seat post or at home in the garage.
If your bike is stolen, call the police immediately. Tell them who you are, where the bike was stolen, and when, and give a description of the bike.
- Register and mark your bike.
- Always lock your bike.
- Never loan your bike.
- Keep your bike locked and out of sight at home.
The Most Important Cycling Fact
Go out and enjoy your bike! Share your time together learning about bicycle safety, enjoying the road, the trails and each other’s company. Spend time in the great outdoors on your bikes and let us know what you do to bicycle safely.