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Safe cycling to prevent injuries

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Riding bikes is not only fun but also a great way for children to exercise. Bike safety is very important. 6 percent of fatal injuries and 6 percent of non-fatal injuries occur during the journey to or from school. The most common types of injuries are bruises and scrapes, followed by bone fractures involving upper extremities (36%) and lower limbs (25%), and head and neck (15%).

Here are a few tips regarding helmet basicssafe clothingbike safety and bike maintenance.

Kids bike helmet basics to reduce head injury

The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury – including the risk of permanent brain damage – and death from bicycling is a helmet. All of us – not just children – should wear a bike helmet when cycling, regardless of age or skill level.

  • Any bike helmets made before 1999 must be replaced
  • When purchasing new kid bike helmets, make sure they have the correct safety stickers attached for your country
  • Picking bright or fluorescent colors that are visible to drivers and other cyclists is a great idea
  • Look for a helmet that’s light, well-built and well ventilated
  • Ask a bike shop for help finding a helmet that is the correct size for your child and fitted properly
  • If the kids bike helmet is dropped or damaged it must be replaced

Ware safe bike clothing to reduce injuries

  • Bright colors over dark colors – Fluorescent or brightly colored bike riding clothes will help kids be visible on the road
  • Reflective is best – Wear something that reflects light like reflective tape or hi-vis vests
  • Be breathable – Lightweight bike riding clothes will help avoid overheating
  • Prevent avoidable accidents – Trousers should not be too loose fitting and all loose straps should be tied up. Anything that can get caught up in the chain while riding should be secured
  • Correct footwear – Choose shoes that grip the bike’s pedals and never ride barefoot

What should I teach children about bike riding safety?

  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights just as you would if you were in a car. Stop for pedestrians, stop at red lights and be especially careful at intersections and junctions.
  • Always check in both directions when setting off on your bike, regardless of where you are.
  • Never ride against traffic.
  • Don’t cycle too closely to parked cars – doors can open suddenly and cause injury.
  • Use bike lanes or designated bike routes if you can – not the sidewalk or path!
  • Avoid riding in the dark if you can help it, as people won’t be able to see you. If you have to, make sure you are wearing reflective bike clothing and a light.
  • Be sure to walk a bike across busy roads using the crossings and follow traffic signals.
  • Always ride single file on the street when in a group – this helps cars pass safely.
  • Never share the seat with a friend or ride on the handlebars – this is not safe at all!
  • Never wear headphones while cycling – you need to hear what’s going on around you at all times.
  • Never stand up while riding your bike.

Always use the correct hand signal and look behind you before changing lanes:

Left turn: hold your left arm straight out from your side and ride forward slowly

Stop: bend your elbow, pointing your arm downward in an upside down “L” shape and
come to a stop

Right turn: hold your right arm straight out from your side and ride forward slowly.

How to maintain a bike:

Be sure to always check:

  • Brakes – check for worn out cables and pads and replace them
  • Chain – keep your chain grime free and be sure to lubricate it regularly to avoid rust
  • Handlebars – adjust for height of children to prevent accidents or injuries
  • Seat – keep the seat level and adjust the height as needed, making sure that the child can reach the pedals comfortably when sitting
  • Tires – check the correct pressure on the side of the tire before setting off. If it is too low it can be too difficult to ride; moreover, it can cause damage to the bike wheels
  • Bike bell – check if it works correctly