Biking to school can benefit your child in many ways. Not only does it increase their physical activity and give them more outdoor time, but it may also encourage feelings of independence and trust.
However, children are more difficult for drivers to see — which can lead to a scary accident. On average, more than 250 thousand children are injured on a bicycle each year.
It’s important to be aware of the ways you can help keep your child safe on their way to and from school. Here are three bicycle safety tips to remember:
1. Map a safe route
Testing different routes will allow you to find one that is safe and age appropriate for your child. If you are able, map out a route on the weekend or walk or bike alongside your child to establish a route that is easy for them to remember.
Also, aiming for a route that sees less traffic can help decrease the potential hazards your child might face on their way to school. If you can’t avoid a busy road or intersection, teach or reinforce traffic signals and signs to your child so they can navigate busier traffic areas.
In San Diego, bicyclists can bike on sidewalks if it isn’t in business districts, so unless you have to bike through a business district to get to school, you shouldn’t have to worry about your child trying to navigate in the road.
2. Don’t forget protective gear
You can’t stop your child from falling off their bike occasionally, but you can avoid serious injury if they wear protective gear and use safety accessories. At the very least, your child should always wear a helmet. In fact, California law requires any child under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Other safety gear and accessories include:
- Elbow and knee pads
- Close-toed shoes
- Horn or bell
- Bright clothing
- Reflective stickers
Don’t let your child wear headphones or earbuds while biking. They need to be able to hear their surroundings and communicate with others while they commute to and from school.
3. Find a biking buddy
If you are unable to supervise your child on their way to school, consider sending them with other kids who bike to school. They could be siblings, friends or other bike commuters. Finding a group for your child to travel with can be helpful in case they run into any trouble, such as encountering a bully or stranger or getting injured in an accident.
Familiarizing your child with these bike safety tips can help them enjoy riding their bike to school while staying out of harm’s way. When a child is hurt due to a negligent driver or other bicyclist, parents can take action to get their child the best care and treatment for recovery.