Let's Go Biking!
Prioritize safety first when your child is riding to school or around the neighborhood. These are items to be checked before your child is on the road:
- Ride a bike that fits you—if it’s too big, it’s harder to control the bike.
- Ride a bike that works—it really doesn’t matter how well you ride if the brakes don’t work.
- Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others, like a bike helmet, bright clothing (during the day), reflective gear, and a white front light and red rear light and reflectors on your bike (at night, or when visibility is poor).
- Ride one per seat, with both hands on the handlebars, unless signaling a turn.
- Carry all items in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike.
- Tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in your bike chain.
- Plan your route—if driving as a vehicle on the road, choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Your safest route may be away from traffic altogether, in a bike lane or on a bike path.
Check Basic Rider Skills
Biking to school is best suited for children in upper elementary and middle school grades, when they are better able to judge and react to the speed, distance, and sounds of traffic than younger students. Because children develop these skills at different ages, parents/caregivers must asses their child’s bicycling ability. At a minimum, parents/caregivers should observe that students can:
- Start and Stop smoothly.
- Ride in a straight line without weaving
- Use Hand signals and check their surrounding while maintaining their balance.
Check Knowledge of Rules of the Road
Children Biking should know and follow the basic bicycling rules, including:
- Ride on the street in the same direction as traffic.
- Ride on the right side of the road a safe distance from curb or parked cars.
- Ride single file, leaving space between bicycles in case of sudden stops.
- Stop at all stop signs and red lights.
- Use hand signals to indicate turns, slowing, and stopping. Calling out “slowing,” “turning,” or “stopping’” can also be helpful when riding in a group.
EASY STEPS TO PROPERLY FIT A BICYCLE HELMET
- Step 1 Size: Try the helmet on to ensure it fits snugly. While it is sitting flat on top of your head, make sure the helmet doesn’t rock side to side. Sizing pads come with new helmets; use the pads to securely fit to your head. Mix or match the sizing pads for the greatest comfort. In your child’s helmet, remove the padding when your child’s head grows. If the helmet has a universal fit ring instead of sizing pads, adjust the ring size to fit the head.
- Step 2 - Position: The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead—one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow
- Step 3 - Buckles: Center the left buckle under the chin. On most helmets, the straps can be pulled from the back of the helmet to lengthen or shorten the chin straps. This task is easier if you take the helmet off to make these adjustments
- Step 4 - Side Straps: Adjust the slider on both straps to form a “V” shape under, and slightly in front of, the ears. Lock the slider if possible.
- Step 5 - Chin Strap: Buckle your chin strap. Tighten the strap until it is snug, so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap.
- Step 6 - Final Fitting: A. Does your helmet fit right? Open your mouth wide…big yawn! The helmet should pull down on the head. If not, refer back to step 5 and tighten the chin strap. B. Does your helmet rock back more than two fingers above the eyebrows? If so, unbuckle, shorten the front strap by moving the slider forward. Buckle, re-tighten the chin strap, and test again. C. Does your helmet rock forward into your eyes? If so, unbuckle, tighten the back strap by moving the slider back toward the ear. Buckle, re-tighten the chin strap, and test again. D. Roll the rubber band down to the buckle. All four straps must go through the rubber band and be close to the buckle to prevent the buckle from slipping.
Make sure their bike is ready to go! Children should know about its basic parts and safety equipment. Knowing these things can help build your child's confidence about riding a bike.
- Have an adult help you adjust the seat so you can have a safe and comfortable ride.
- Diamond Frame: Adjust to stand over the frame with l to 3 inches of clearance between you and the bike.
- Step-through Frame: This frame is more versatile and can be adjusted to fit most kids.
- Beginners: When you sit on the seat, you should be able to touch both feet on the ground.
- Advanced: When you sit on the seat with your foot on the pedal in its lowest position, your leg should be slightly bent.
- Note: Recumbent bicycles have their own fit system, which puts the rider in a laid back, reclining position. People of varying abilities choose to ride recumbent bicycles because it supports and distributes a rider's weight differently than a typical bicycle.