Bicycle riding is fun but it’s important to ride safely and avoid potentially traumatic accidents. We want to encourage our children to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and exercise, but we want them to be safe. Bethany McCunn from the Injury and Violence Prevention unit at The Virginia Department of Health offers important reminders for keeping cyclists safe on our roads.
- Bicycles are vehicles, so they need to ride with, not against, traffic, and obey traffic laws.
- Bicyclists need to follow the same signs and signals that cars are following.
- Bicyclists need to be predictable. Use signaling to indicate when you are turning left, slowing down, and turning right.
- Don’t weave in and out and between cars. You need to make sure you are visible at all times.
- Make sure you are wearing a bicycle helmet.
- While there are a wide variety of helmets on the market, all helmets must pass safety standards. Just remember, your helmet cannot protect you adequately if it doesn’t fit properly, and it won’t protect you at all if you leave it at home! Check out the related article on this site, about Selecting the Best Helmet.
- Clothing must have reflective features, and lights, particularly when riding a bike in the early morning hours, at dusk, or at night. The bike also needs to have working lights on both the front and back.
- Don’t wear clothing that flaps around, or have loose shoestrings that can get tangled up in your bicycle chain and gears and cause an accident. Make sure loose-fitting pants are rolled up or tucked into boots.
- Gloves are a good idea to wear when riding to protect your hands in case of a fall.
- New bike riders, particularly children learners, should wear knee pads, elbow pads and of course a helmet, to protect themselves from falls.
- Look for places where there are bike paths and designated bicycle lanes. Virginia has some protected bike lanes across the state, as well as bike trails that are paved and set apart from the roadway to help enhance the safety and enjoyment for the cyclist.
Here are a couple of links to explore for more information about cycling:
For information about biking trails around Virginia, visit: www.virginia.org/bicycling
For a printable checklist of Bike Safety for Kids