Childr Health Information

Bicycle Safety

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Topic: General Child Health

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about bicycle safety. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse practitioner to go over any information you do not understand. Keep in mind that many of the safety issues talked about in this handout can also be used when children ride on a scooter, skateboard, Rollerblades, or other types of recreational moving vehicles.

What is bicycle safety?

A bicycle is your child’s first vehicle, not just a toy. Safety rules that your child learns now will affect his or her future driving habits.
All too often children are seriously injured or even killed when they don’t follow basic bicycle safety rules. Most children’s bicycle accidents involve falls, not cars. Falls can happen anywhere. A child on a bicycle ALWAYS needs a helmet to protect his or her head in case of a fall.

How do I pick out a bike for my child?

  1.  Do not push your child to ride a two-wheeled bike until he or she is ready - usually about age 5 or 6.
  2. Take your child with you when you shop so that he or she can try out a bike. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one to “grow into.” Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.
  3. How to make sure a bike “fits” your child:
  • Sitting on the seat with hands on the handlebars, your child should be able to touch the balls of both feet on the ground.
  • Straddling the center bar, your child should be able to keep both feet flat on the ground with about 1 inch clearance between the crotch and the bar.
  • If you buy a bike with hand brakes, be sure your child can comfortably grasp the brakes and apply enough pressure to stop.

      4. Be sure that the bike has brakes.

When does my child need a bicycle helmet?

When buying your child’s first bike, be sure to buy a helmet approved by ANSI or Snell.

How do I know if my child is wearing his or her helmet correctly?

Your child should wear a snug-fitting helmet square on the top of his or her head, not over the forehead and not tipped back. The strap should fit snugly with room for only 1 or 2 fingers under the chin strap. If a helmet is going to protect a child’s head, it has to stay in place if your child falls.

How can I get my child to wear a helmet?

  1. Have your child wear a helmet as soon as he or she starts to ride a bike. It is never too late, however, to get your child into a helmet.
  2. To teach children that helmets are important, tell them:
  • Bikes are vehicles, not toys.
  •  You love and value your child.
  • They can hurt their heads permanently or even die from head or brain injuries.
  •  The helmet will help protect them if they should fall.
  1. Reward your kids for wearing helmets:
    a. Praise them or give them special treats or privileges when they wear their helmets without being told.
  2. Be consistent. Do not let children ride a bike unless they wear their helmets. It is important to wear a helmet on every ride, no matter how short.
  3.  Encourage your child’s friends to wear helmets: Peer pressure can be used in a positive way.
  4. Point out that bicycle racers are now required to wear helmets in the United States and in the Olympics.
  5. Allow your child to decorate his or her helmet using stickers, markers or paint.
  6.  Wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle to set a good example.

    When using a child carrier with an adult bike:
  7.  A child younger than age 2 or older than age 4 should not be placed in a child carrier.
  8. Remember to use a helmet for your child and yourself.

What bicycle safety rules should be followed?

  1.  You should set limits on when and where your children may ride. Most serious injuries occur when the bicyclist is hit by a motor vehicle.
  2. Teach your children to:
  •  Ride with traffic.
  • Stop and look both ways before going into the street.
  • Stop at all intersections. Obey all traffic signals.
  • Before turning, use hand signals and look to the left, right, front and back.
  • Do not ride at dusk or in the dark.
  • Ride on smooth and dry pavement.

      3. Children who don’t follow safety rules should lose privileges, such as not being allowed to use their bike.

      4. Remember to check tires, brakes, seat and handlebar height yearly.

      5. Teach children to care for their bikes so they work correctly.

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered
complete. For specific information about bicycle safety, please ask your child’s doctor or nurse practitioner.


PDF: Bicycle Safety

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Preparado: 1993
Corregido: 1995, 2000, 2004, 2010
Revisado: 2004, 2007

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Formulated: 1993
Revised: 1995, 2000, 2004, 2010
Reviewed: 2004, 2007


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