Approximately 10 children under the age of 16 are killed in bicycle accidents every year in the UK and 400 seriously injured. (In the US, the numbers are approximately 60 deaths a year). The 3 key rules to remember are to wear a properly fitted cycle helmet, the child must be taught and fully understand road traffic rules and they must follow them.
Cycling Safety Tips
Ensure your child is aware of the following :
- Make sure the bicycle tyres, chain and brakes are in good working order. An air pump, puncture kits and some water are useful for longer journeys.
- Wear a properly fitting Bicycle Helmet.
- Use cycle lanes wherever possible
- Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit (handlebars should be the same level as the knees, you should be able to just touch the floor with your feet when stationary and standing up)
- Always drive on the correct side of the road : e.g. on the left in UK, on the right in the US and most of Europe
- See and Be Seen (wear light colours, reflective clothing or strip lights in the dark)
- Never ride the bicycle no handed, a minimum of 1 hand is needed on the handlebars at all times for proper cycle control
- Watch for and avoid Road Hazards e.g. potholes, glass, animals, water, mud etc.
- Avoid Riding at Night (but have lights & correct clothing just in case)
- Stop at every junction and take your time, looking and listening just as you would if you were a pedestrian.
- Obey All Traffic Laws (learn what these are, do online safety training)
- Cycle in straight lines and try to be predictable.
- Look Before Turning left or right
- Always use the "look, signal & manoeuvre when safe to do so" technique when turning left or right or even when you are moving out of a straight line e.g. to avoid a pothole or other obstruction. Remember cars are NOT expecting you to move out into the middle of the road, they expect you to stay in the side at all times. Treat the middle of the road as a no-go area unless you know there are no vehicles coming and it is safe.
- Never listen to music or use mobile phones while riding and stay fully tuned and concentrated on staying safe.
- Watch out for Parked Cars : often people open doors unexpectedly. Slow down and again use the "look, signal & manoeuvre when safe to do so" technique
- This is a debatable point but younger children (up to age 9 or 10) should consider riding on the sidewalk/ pavement if there is no dedicated cycle path. However, they must be taught to cycle slowly and watch out carefully for pedestrians. Also check if this is legal in your country and whether your child is likely or able to be prosecuted. In the UK this is unlikely.
This informative site has some great tips and advice on how to avoid the most common biking accidents with cars (based on US style driving on the right hand side). The info is accompanied by diagrams and explanations of the 10 most common ways of being hit ('The Right Cross', 'The Door Prize', 'The Crosswalk Slam', 'The Wrong-Way Wreck', 'The Red Light of Death', 'The Right Hook', 'The Right hook part2', 'The Left Cross', 'The Rear End' and 'The Rear End Part2'. There are also some General Tips too (e.g. avoiding busy streets, signal and use lights when dark etc.).