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Bike Safety Tips for Kids

Did you know that nearly 30 million American kids between ages 5 and 14 – about 70 percent of them – regularly ride bicycles? And those kids are five times more likely to sustain injuries in a bike-related accident than any other age group. In fact, children and adolescents make up 24 percent of all bicycle-related deaths and over 50 percent of bicycle-related injuries.

The good news is that the number of bicycle-related injuries are decreasing, and there are definitely things you can do to continue the downward trend. Here are a few tips to help make your child safer every time they ride.

Wearing the right helmet – Riding a bike without a helmet increases the chances of a fatal head injury by nearly 14 times. Wearing a helmet is the most important step in avoiding injury, but just wearing one isn’t enough. Make sure it fits properly, sitting square on a child’s head, about two fingers’ width above their eyes. Buckles should be centered under their chin, and the helmet should be tight enough to stay securely on their head. A helmet should never be worn over a hat of any kind. Learn more helmet fitting tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Obeying road rules – The safest place for cyclists under 10 is on the sidewalk, away from traffic. But once your child is old enough to ride on the street, they should learn and understand basic traffic safety rules:    

●       Always stop and check for traffic in both directions when leaving your driveway, an alley, or a curb.

●       Cross at intersections and obey all traffic signals. Walk your bike across busy intersections using the crosswalk.

●       Travel in the same direction as traffic, on the right-hand side of the street. Never ride against traffic.

●       Use bike lanes wherever you can.

●       Don't ride too close to parked cars. Doors can open suddenly.

●       Ride single-file on the street when riding with others.

●       When passing other bikers or people on the street, always pass to their left side, and call out "On your left!" so they know that you are coming.

●       Always use hand signals when turning or stopping, using your left arm:

○        Left turn: Check behind you, then hold your arm straight out to the left and ride forward slowly.

○        Right turn: Check behind you then hold your arm up in an "L" shape, and ride forward slowly.

○        Stop: Bend your elbow, pointing your arm downward in an upside down "L" shape and come to a stop.

Being a role model – Children are far more likely to follow our example than listen to our words. That’s why it’s so important for you to model the behavior you expect of your child: Always wear your own helmet when riding, obey road rules, and respect cyclists and motorists who share the road. Encourage older siblings to model good cycling habits too, reinforcing that wearing helmets and following road rules are non-negotiables.  

Visit FirstKids

Avoiding bike injuries is always best, but accidents do happen. If your child has a minor after-hours injury, the medical professionals at FirstKids Urgent Care are prepared to help. We can also provide back-up care – or provide primary care – for routine wellness check ups and vaccines. We are a walk-in facility serving the Tuscaloosa areas, so there’s no appointment necessary. If it’s more convenient, you can schedule an appointment online here. FirstKids accepts all major insurance plans, as well as Medicaid and self-pay patients as well.

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