Bicycle Safety for Kids




Bicycle Safety for Kids


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– Bicycle riding is fun, healthy, and a great way to be independent.

– It is important to remember that a bicycle is not a toy; it’s a vehicle!

– Be cool – follow some basic safety tips when you ride.

Safe Riding Tips

How do you stay safe while biking?

Before using your bicycle, make sure it is ready to ride. You should always inspect your bike to ensure all parts are secure and working properly. Remember to:

Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet. Protect your brain, save your life.

Here are some easy steps to properly fit a bicycle helmet:

  • When putting on the helmet, if it is perched on top of your head it is too small. If it goes over your ears and is very loose it is too large. The proper fitting helmet should fit snugly on your head.
  • When wearing a helmet, the ridgeline between the top and bottom should parallel the ground. There should be about a two-finger space between your eyebrows and the bottom of the helmet on your forehead.
  • When adjusting the buckle that forms the “V” should be just below your ear and the “V” that is formed should go in front of and behind the ear.
  • Adjusting the buckle for the chin straps should be centered below your chin. You should be able to put one finger between the chin strap and your neck.
  • To better see what I just described, watch the “Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet” video (coming soon).

Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit

Stand over your bicycle. If you are using a road bike, there should be one to two inches between you and the top tube (bar) and three to four inches if you are using a mountain bike. 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 as the seat.

Check Your Equipment

Before riding, remember your ABC’s!

  • Air in Tires

The recommended air pressure for your bike is on the sidewall of your bike tire. It will be in pounds per square inch (PSI). Typically, a road tire can go between 80 and 130 psi, while a mountain tire holds between 30 and 50 psi. Hybrids usually take between 50 and 70 psi.

  • Brakes working

Walk your bike forward and test that the front brake stops the bike. Now, walk your bike forward and check that the back break stop your bike.

  • Chain is good

Take a short ride around and ensure that for each time you move the gear shifter the gear changes on the sprocket.

See and Be Seen

Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you 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, markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.

Control Your Bicycle

Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.

Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards

Look for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. If you are riding with friends and you are in the lead, yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you.

Avoid Riding at Night

Riding at night is far more dangerous than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law in many States) and reflectors on your tires, so others can see you.

Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including 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. To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road.

Rules of the Road – Bicycling on the Road

What are the safety rules for riding a bike?

Bicycles in many States are considered vehicles, and cyclists have the same rights and the same responsibilities to follow the rules of the road as motorists. When riding, always:

Should bicycles ride with or against traffic? Go With the Traffic Flow 

Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles. Go with the flow – not against it.

Bicycle Safety for Kids
Bicycle Safety for Kids

Obey All Traffic Laws

A bicycle is a vehicle and you’re a driver. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.

Yield to Traffic When Appropriate

Almost always, drivers on a smaller road must yield (wait) for traffic on a major or larger road. If there is no stop sign or traffic signal and you are coming from a smaller roadway (out of a driveway, from a sidewalk, a bike path, etc.), you must slow down and look to see if the way is clear before proceeding. This also means yielding to pedestrians who have already entered a crosswalk.

Be Predictable

Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Signal your moves to others.

Stay Alert at All Times

Use your eyes AND ears. Watch out for potholes, cracks, wet leaves, storm grates, railroad tracks, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike. You need your ears to hear traffic and avoid dangerous situations; don’t wear a headset when you ride.

Look Before Turning

When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.

Watch for Parked Cars

Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (like doors opening, or cars pulling out).

Those are some of the bicycle safety rules of the road.

Sidewalk versus Street Riding

Is it safe to ride a bike on the sidewalk?

The safest place for bicycle riding is on the street, where bicycles are expected to follow the same rules of the road as motorists and ride in the same direction.

-Children less than 10 years old, however, are not mature enough to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street.

-Children less than 10 years old are better off riding on the sidewalk.

  • Check the law in your State or jurisdiction to make sure sidewalk riding is allowed.
  • Watch for vehicles coming out of or turning into driveways.
  • Stop at corners of sidewalks and streets to look for cars and to make sure the drivers see you before crossing.
  • Enter a street at a corner and not between parked cars. Alert pedestrians that you are near by saying, “Excuse me,” or, “Passing on your left,” or use a bell or horn.

Bicycle Safety for Adults

Fitting A Helmet

Every bike ride begins with putting on a helmet. But it’s equally important that you ensure a proper fit so your helmet can best protect you. Size can vary between manufacturers.

How to Fit a Bike Helmet

  • When putting on the helmet, if it is perched on top of your head it is too small. If it goes over your ears and is very loose it is too large. The proper fitting helmet should fit snugly on your head.
  • When wearing a helmet, the ridgeline between the top and bottom should be parallel to the ground. There should be about a two-finger space between your eyebrows and the bottom of the helmet on your forehead.
  • When adjusting the buckle that forms the “V” should be just below your ear and the “V” that is formed should go in front of and behind the ear.
  • Adjusting the buckle for the chin straps should be centered below your chin. You should be able to put one finger between the chin strap and your neck.

To better see what I just described, watch the “Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet” video (coming soon).

Ensuring a proper helmet fit may take time, but your life is worth it. Looking in the mirror or having someone else adjust the straps is usually easier. For the most comprehensive list of helmet sizes according to manufacturers, go the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) Web site.

Avoid Crashes

Decreasing Risk of Crashes

Ride your bike responsibly. All States require bicyclists on the roadway to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists.

There are two main types of crashes: the most common (falls), and the most serious (the ones with cars). Regardless of the reason for the crash, prevention is the name of the game; there are things you can do to decrease your risk of a crash.

Be Prepared Before Heading Out

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).

With both hands on the handlebars, ride one per seat 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 to avoid getting 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.

Drive Defensively – Focused and Alert

Be focused and alert to the road and all traffic around you; anticipate what others may do, before they do it. This is defensive driving—the quicker you notice a potential conflict, the quicker you can act to avoid a potential crash:

Drive with the flow, in the same direction as traffic.

Obey street signs, signals, and road markings like a car.

Assume the other person doesn’t see you; look ahead for hazards or situations to avoid that may cause you to fall, like toys, pebbles, potholes, grates, train tracks.

No texting, listening to music or using anything that distracts you by taking your eyes and ears or your mind off the road and traffic.

Drive Predictably

By driving predictably, motorists understand what you intend to do and can react to avoid a crash.

Drive where you are expected to be seen, travel in the same direction as traffic and signal and look over your shoulder before changing lane position or turning.

Avoid or minimize sidewalk riding. Cars don’t expect to see moving traffic on a sidewalk and don’t look for you when backing out of a driveway or turning. Sidewalks sometimes end unexpectedly, forcing the bicyclist into a road when a car isn’t expecting to look for a bicyclist.

  • If you must ride on the sidewalk, remember to:
  • Check your law to make sure sidewalk riding is legal
  • Watch for pedestrians
  • Pass pedestrians with care by first announcing “on your left” or “passing on your left” or use a bell
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic. If the sidewalk ends, you are already riding with the traffic flow. If crossing a street, motorists will look left, right, left for traffic. When you are to the driver’s left, the driver is more likely to see you
  • Slow and look for traffic (left-right-left and behind) when crossing a street from a sidewalk; be prepared to stop and follow the pedestrian signals
  • Slow down and look for cars backing out of driveways or turning.

Improve Your Riding Skills

No one learns to drive a vehicle safely without practice and experience; safely riding your bike in traffic requires the same preparation. Start by riding your bike in a safe environment away from traffic (a park, path, or empty parking lot).

Take an on-bike class through your school, recreation department, local bike shop or bike advocacy group. Confidence in traffic comes with learning how to navigate and communicate with other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Reviewing and practicing as a safe pedestrian or bicyclist is a great preparation for safe riding.

Drivers: Share the Road

People on bicycles have the same rights as people behind the wheel. And the same responsibilities.

Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.

In parking lots, at stop signs, when packing up, or when parking, search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicycles.

Drivers turning right on red should look to the right and behind to avoid hitting a bicyclist approaching from the right rear. Stop completely and look left-right-left and behind before turning right on red.

Obey the speed limit, reduce speed for road conditions and drive defensively to avoid a crash with a cyclist.

Give cyclists room. Do not pass too closely. Pass bicyclists as you would any other vehicle—when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane.


How do I keep my child safe on a bike?

To keep your child safe on a bike, ensure they wear a properly fitted helmet, teach them road rules, use safe cycling routes, and supervise them until they are confident riders.

What is the bicycle safety for school age?

Bicycle safety for school-age children includes wearing helmets, obeying traffic rules, using hand signals, staying visible with reflective gear, and avoiding distractions while riding.

What are some safety issues with biking?

Common safety issues with biking include not wearing helmets, cycling on busy roads, ignoring traffic signals, riding in the dark without lights, and not being visible to motorists.

What is the safest way to ride a bike?

The safest way to ride a bike is to wear a helmet, use proper hand signals, stay in designated bike lanes, obey traffic rules, and remain aware of your surroundings.

How do you help a scared kid ride a bike?

Help a scared kid ride a bike by starting in a safe and open area, using training wheels, offering encouragement, and providing a sense of security. Gradually progress to more challenging terrain as their confidence grows.

Should kids wear bike helmets?

Yes, kids need to wear bike helmets to protect their heads from injuries in case of falls or accidents.

Is it safer to cycle with a helmet?

Yes, wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of head injuries while cycling, making it safer to ride with one.

What is the recommended age for a helmet?

Helmets are recommended for all ages when riding a bike. It’s crucial to wear one from the first time a child starts riding a bike and throughout adulthood.

At what age should a kid wear a helmet?

A child should wear a helmet as soon as they start riding a bike, scooter, or any wheeled equipment to ensure their safety.

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About the author

2 responses to “Bicycle Safety for Kids”

  1. John Avatar

    These are great points for riding you bike on the road safely. I have a teenager that rides all the time, he will not get on his bike without his helmet.
    Your instructions on how to measure the helmet are very important.
    Do you recommend gloves for long rides or when the weather is not at its best, I do have a couple of pairs of finger less gloves that I like to wear, they give a good feel and your fingers are not covered for better control.

    1. Les Waller Avatar
      Les Waller

      Thanks for your comments, John!
      When the weather is cooler, I have some old flight gloves that I wear to keep my finders out of the wind. I think for long rides it is important to have a comfortable handlebar grip, as well. Sometimes the stock grips just aren’t good enough for that. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the first things people modify on the Brompton folding bike. That being said, if the gloves are comfortable then why not?

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