Cycling for Kids QUICKGuide
Winning the helmet battle
Although kids rarely pay attention to statistics, here’s one as a parent you’ll want to know: a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85%. We know it can be a challenge to get kids to wear helmets, and this is especially true in the pre-teen and teenage years, but don’t despair. Consider going out with your child to pick out a helmet that has a style or pattern that fits their personal style. If you want to do an object lesson for the difference a helmet makes for younger kids, grab a couple eggs, a box, a chair, a pile of bubble wrap and head outside. Standing on the chair, drop an egg into the box of bubble wrap (it shouldn’t break), and then perform again on the driveway with no protection and watch the egg splat. You can teach it from there – helmet vs. no helmet.
Lock in the two finger rule
To ensure snug fit and correct helmet position, no more than two fingers should fit in the space between the eyebrows and the front of the helmet and no more than two fingers should fit between the chin strap and chin. The helmet straps should also form a “V” over the ears.
No iPod on wheels
Headphones need to be off when riding the bike. Although this is intuitive to us as parents, is not always common sense for kids.
Teach kids to play by the rules and assume others won’t
On a bike, kids are responsible to abide by the same rules of the road as motorists, including following traffic signals and riding on the right side of the road. Kids should also walk their bikes across intersections. We know motorists are supposed to share the road, but with all the distractions, kids need to be ultra-vigilant, and this is a hard thing even for adults. Keep teaching all the good common sense principles and reinforcing them as much as possible. As the parent, you decide when it’s appropriate for them to ride alone, on streets versus paths, based on when you feel they are responsible and ready.
Don’t blend in
This is one place where attracting attention is a good thing. You want your kids to stand out – this means bright colored clothing and helmets. With so many distractions vying for drivers’ attention, you want motorists to see kids on the road. Thankfully, bright colors and neon are back in style and a hot trend in fashion. It might make it an easier sell to the kids.
Building awareness of the surroundings
Many accidents and injuries come from losing control of the bike. Some of these can be avoided by looking ahead and safely slowing down and avoiding potholes, debris, sewer grates, sand and other problem areas.
Check out our Family Fun Cycling Guide for more great tips and recommended Minnesota trails.
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