Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bicycle Safety

Jack received his first bike (a tricycle) from my in-laws for his 2nd birthday!  He LOVES bike rides these days, despite the fact that we have had some wicked heat and humidity lately.  Here is our adorable cyclist!

Yes, the tricycle can be steered by Mommy or Daddy using the tall handle!

He doesn't actually pedal hard enough to move himself but he's getting closer to having the strength!
One thing that's been a big part of my life growing up, and am determined to keep as a big deal in my children's life, is bicycle safety.  We live in a community where biking is very prevalent and quite a few of the main roads (at least portions of them) have designated bike lanes.  Even with the increased awareness and space on the roads cyclists are still at risk when riding, whether on a city street or even on a trail.  I may be more aware of this fact because of a good family friend, and very experienced cyclist, was killed by a car-bicycle accident when I was in college.  She was a very experienced cyclist and wore a helmet religiously but her life was still taken too soon.

Here are my top important facts from the "Bicycle Safety: Myths and Facts" from the AAP website
  • Children need to wear a helmet on every bike ride, even the rides around the neighborhood or just in your driveway!
  • You should ride with traffic, not against it when riding on the street.  Bicycles are vehicles and cyclists can even get a ticket in some cities for going the wrong way on the street.  (The Ohio laws pertaining to bicycles can be found explained here)
  • Teach your children hand signals.  These are not only important for riding their bikes growing up, but also when their lights are out on their first cars.
Some other things I feel are important ideas of bicycle safety:
  • Ensure the bicycle helmet fits correctly and is being worn correctly.  Check out the pictures on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website if you have any question.
  • Bike helmets should be replaced (found here):
    • After a crash/accident
    • After dropping it that results in cracking in the plastic and/or foam (which can be hard to see)
    • If the helmet doesn't have a safety standards sticker inside
    • Every 3-5 years
    • If it can not be adjusted to fit properly 
  • Wear close toed shoes, not flip-flops or other sandals.  Sandals are notoriously unsafe, think of the number of times you may have tripped even while walking.  Sandals are not secure to your foot and are in direct contact with the pedals and close to the gears of your bike, they can easily get caught in the chain or gears with your foot still attached.
  • Wear clothing that fits properly and is not loose; no skirts or dresses while riding.  Again, this is the risk of loose items getting caught in the moving parts of the bike.  I'm not suggesting people wear spandex bicycle shorts, but the average fit of shorts or capris would be a fine option.  Depending on how fashion cycles, those loose and baggy pants I saw guys wearing in junior high/high school would cause just as many issues as skirts and dresses.
Some of these things may seem kind of goofy, even to my husband who grew up without any care in the world when riding his bike, but these things really are pretty common sense. 

I must admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing families riding their bicycles where the children are wearing helmets, but their parents are not!  Even if you have been riding a bicycle longer than your children, you are not any less likely to be involved in an accident.  So while some of the sources referred to are geared toward child bicycle safety, the rules apply to all of us.  Not to mention, children learn by imitating their parents... the whole "do as I say, not as I do" will not effectively teach our children how to be safe.

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