A child’s first independent bike ride is a moment that feels liberating and one that stays with a child till late adulthood. Learning to ride the bike, however, should go hand-in-hand with learning about road safety. So, if your kid is about to embark on his bike journey, make sure to strap his kids’ bike helmet on, buckle his knee and elbow guards into place, and most importantly, teach him how to be a safe rider by setting an example yourself.
Choosing Where to Ride
Wherever designated areas, such as bicycle paths, are available, teach your child to stay on the track. However, if there is no such area, the footpath is a safer alternative than the road. The law allows children up to 12 years of age and a supervising adult to ride on the footpath in such cases.
How to Cross the Road
When you are riding with your child, teach them about road crossing. Talk about stopping at the curb and looking both ways to make sure the road is clear. Teach them to also listen to the sound of vehicles that come around blind corners. And, if your child is under five, encourage them to decide the appropriate time to cross the road and approve or disapprove of their choices. Also, teach your child how to read road signs and what they mean.
What Safety Gear to Wear
Ensure that you and your kid are wearing Australian Standards approved (AS/NZS 2063) helmets, as the law mandates that both you and your child wear helmets. Moreover, you must pay attention to the size of the kids’ bike helmet you buy. Make sure you choose an appropriately sized one that is neither too tight nor too loose, as It must sit comfortably on your child’s head. Also, avoid wearing caps underneath the helmet, as you and your child may wear a visor over it.
Make sure that you position your child’s helmet correctly. Place it level on your child’s head so that its rim is just above the eyebrows and it covers the forehead. You must also adjust the straps so that the V shape of the strap sits just below your child’s earlobe and fasten the buckle correctly under your child’s chin.
Maintain the helmet in good condition, avoid exposing it to extreme heat, do not drop it from great heights, and replace it if it is old and its foam starts fraying. Additionally, you can invest in elbow and knee guards. But, look for ones that are easy to roll on and have abrasion-resistant fabric panels. Meanwhile, top-quality protectors come in perforated mesh designs that are breathable even during the sultriest of days.
How to Maintain the Bicycle
Your child must learn to check the bike regularly. So, teach them to check pedals, bearings, chains and brakes. The bike must stop quickly in an emergency, and while riding the bicycle, the tyres need to have the right amount of pressure. Moreover, the other moving parts such as gears, chains and cables should be well-oiled on a weekly basis.
Bike safety is a necessary prerequisite to thoroughly enjoying a bike ride. During the span of a decade, 37,382 children aged below 16 met with bike-related accidents, and a vast majority of these incidents were avoidable with precaution. So teach your child to be a responsible biker, and make their cycling experience truly memorable.