Bicycling is a favorite — and terrific — way for kids to get exercise. Yet while your child may know to wear a quality bicycle helmet at all times, he or she may be less aware of other important bike safety rules. Here are some points to review with your kids before their next spin:
Size your bike. Make sure the bicycle is the right size. A knowledgeable bicycle shop can help you determine which bike is best.
Maintain the bike. Know the different parts of the bike and make sure they are in good working condition. Older children can learn to check tires, adding air and doing easy repairs when necessary. They can also learn to keep the bike oiled and to make sure the wheels, brakes, chains and steering gear are secure.
Stand out. Wear bright-colored shirts; yellow, red and orange are all good choices. Make sure bikes have reflectors on the front, back and wheels, as well as on the pedals. Reflective tape on helmets and clothing also helps drivers see bicyclists. Avoid riding at night; but if your child gets caught in foul weather or at dusk, it’s good to have bike lights with halogen bulbs and rechargeable batteries. Finally, attach a bike flag to the back for added visibility.
Go in the right direction. Always ride on the right side of the road, in the same direction as the rest of the traffic. On a one-way street, you may ride on either side but not the wrong way.
Learn hand signals. Let other drivers know your intentions. An extended left arm means, “I’m going to turn left.” A raised, bent arm means, “I’m going to turn right.” A lowered, bent arm means, “I’m stopping.” Always look over your left shoulder at approaching traffic when you want to change direction.
Heed traffic lights and stop signs. Bicyclists must obey traffic signals just as cars do.
A steady red light means stop.
A steady yellow light means stop if you have not entered the cross street; if you have entered, keep going.
A steady green light means go with care.
A lashing red light means stop, look both ways and go when it’s safe.
A flashing yellow light means go slowly, look for other traffic and proceed when it’s safe.
A green arrow means turn only in the direction shown.
Be careful at intersections. If a street corner has a stop sign facing your way, stop. Look left, then right, then left again. Always assume drivers do not see you and proceed slowly. If there’s no stop sign facing you, take your time going through. At busy intersections with traffic signals, use the “walking left turn”: Get off your bike, wait for the walk sign or green light, then walk across the street in the crosswalk. Mount your bike and continue riding.
Listen carefully. Listening for cars, dogs and the like is critical for bike safety. Leave the headphones at home.
Avoid obstacles. Whenever possible, keep off manhole covers, sewer grates, wet leaves, puddles, ice patches and cracks in the road. Cross straight over railroad tracks. Wet tracks and wet steel bridges are slippery — walk your bike across.
Stop fast safely. When you have to, brake hard and lean back over the rear wheel to add weight to it. If you have caliper brakes on both wheels, squeeze the rear wheel caliper harder than the front to keep you from pitching forward.
Tags: bicycling, helmet, security