Here is a statistic that shocked me. In 2004 over 3,500 cyclists aged between 11 and 16 were killed or seriously injured on roads in Britain.
Therefore before you allow your children to cycle on our roads it is vital that you are sure they are taking all necessary safety precautions, they know how to ride a bike and their bike is well maintained. This could be the difference between life and death.
For many people reading this it may sound like common sense, but how many times do you see someone riding a bike in the dark, without lights or reflective clothing?
Always Wear a Helmet
It is estimated that over 50% of injuries to cyclists affect the head or face. If you don't wear a helmet you greatly increase the risk of serious injury or death. Helmets may not look cool, but they can save your life.
Tips for buying a helmet
- . A helmet should have a recognised safety standard. For example BS EN 1078 SNELL CERTIFIED.
- . Always try the helmet on. It should not obstruct your view and it should fit snugly.
- . Always get a trained member of staff to check the helmet fits properly before you buy. When buying children's shoes you are likely to go to great lengths to ensure they are comfortable and fit properly. It is even more important with a helmet.
- . The helmet should not tip backwards or forwards.
- . If you have an accident buy a new helmet as any impact can affect the level of safety the helmet offers.
- . Never buy second hand. You never know the history of the helmet.
- . Look out for helmets with peaks. These are believed to offer better protection.
Keep an eye on how well a helmet fits your child. Once they grow out of it, its time to buy a new one.
Get Lit Up
Anyone who rides a bike needs to make themselves as visible as possible. Every bike should be fitted with lights. You never know when they might be needed. If you have a child who drops into see a friend after school they may find themselves riding home unexpectedly after dark.
You will need a white light at the front and a red one at the rear. I do not recommend dynamo type lights because when your child stops riding, for example at lights or at a junction, the lights go out and they can no longer be seen. Check the lights are working on a regular basis.
A bike should also have a white reflector at the front and a red one at the back. Make sure these are kept clean. A dirty reflector is no more use than not having one. Keep pedal reflectors clean as well.
Reflective clothing is best at night, while fluorescent clothing is recommended during the day. You can buy clothing that combines the two. You can also get fluorescent covers for rucksacks.
Make sure the bike is the right size. A bike that is too big or too small can be dangerous. When ever possible have a bike fitted by a specialist when buying.
- . Never use a personal stereo while cycling.
- . Focus on the road and don't get distracted by friends you may be riding with.
- . Do not wear loose fitting trousers. If you do wear cycling clips.
Before making any movements to turn right, left or change lanes always look behind you to make sure the road is clear. Give a clear signal in good time before you make your move.
Hold Your Line
Keep in a straight line as you ride. Do not weave in and out of cars or to avoid drains and potholes. You should take up a line far enough away from the kerb to avoid any drains.
Even on quiet roads concentration is the key to safe cycling. If you are with friends avoid any temptation to switch off and chat. Always watch out for hazards ahead and obey traffic signs and traffic lights.
National Cycling Proficiency Scheme
I took my cycling proficiency test when I was at school and I would recommend any child taking this course. It is aimed at getting children up and running on a bike. By the end of the course they should be ready to ride on quiet roads by themselves.
Training is now split into three sections and is aimed at children aged between seven and thirteen. Details should be available from your child's school or from your local road traffic safety officer at your local council.
Making Sure a Bike is Properly Maintained
Here are some tips for checking your bike is in good condition.
- . Make sure both the front and back brake are working and can bring the bike to a stop relatively quickly.
- . Make sure the wheels are stable and do not wobble from side to side.
- . Ensure the saddle will not slip or turn
- . Check the handlebars are tight and will not move
- . Check the tyres are inflated with a good, even tread
- . Keep the chain lubricated
Saddle and handlebar height are important to ensure a safe, comfortable ride. Many children ride with the saddle too low. Make sure a child can put part, but not all of their feet on the ground. For younger children just starting out it is best to have a lower saddle with most of their foot able to rest on the ground.
We enjoy cycling as a family. Once you have bought the bikes it is free! The exercise is good as well. I would like to see more cycle lanes. I also think that all drivers should be sent out to ride a bicycle around the town they live in before passing a driving test. They can see how scary it can be when cars speed past you at a hairsbreadth away.
Posted: 10/May/07 at 12:45:49
i dont think cyclists are respected as much as they should be on the roads. if we ever go on a bike ride we keep well away from busy roads becuase of the drivers out there. i do think some cyclists need a test before they are let loose on the roads!
Posted: 29/May/07 at 8:54:51
What do you think?
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