With accessible public bike shares, bike lanes, and commuter trails abound, it’s easy for D.C.-area residents to find a place to ride. But how many of us cycle safely? More importantly, how many of us teach our kids how to properly and safely ride a bike? Bike safety is important and we’ve provided three easy tips to teach you and your kids how to be a safe on the road this summer!
As uncomfortable as it may be at times – especially on those hot summer days – wearing a well-fitted helmet is the most important safety step you and your family can take toward healthy riding. Your helmet should be properly positioned towards the front of your head, and you should be able to fit two fingers between your eyebrows and helmet. The chinstrap needs to be tightened to secure your helmet in place. Once your helmet is snapped and fastened, it should feel nice and snug with very little movement. Your little ones will love the variety of colorful helmet designs and styles, and may even be able to decorate their own!
Along with wearing a helmet, it’s important to be seen! Make yourself visible to fellow cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. Making sure you and your kids are easy to spot is simple and fun. Start by wearing brightly colored and reflective clothing, regardless of the time of day. Consider wearing a reflective vest and reflective tape, both of which can be found at most sports stores. Additionally, place a flashing white light at the front end and a flashing red light at the back end of your bike. While lights are more important for nighttime riding, using one during the day is perfectly fine too. Just remember that the more your outfit stands out, the more visible you will be to drivers, pedestrians and other bikers.
Our last bike safety tip is to encourage your little ones to follow the same rules as the cars and trucks on the road. This means stopping at red lights and stop signs, and looking left, right, and then left again before crossing traffic. It also means signaling motorists and pedestrians that you are turning left, turning right, or stopping. To signal a left turn, horizontally extend your left arm straight out to your left side. To make a right turn, extend your left arm horizontally and make an “L” shape with your extended arm. Finally, to signal that you’re stopping, extend your left arm horizontally and make an upside down “L” shape with your extended arm. Signaling traffic will help prevent confusion on the road as well as accidents.
Riding your bike is a great way for your whole family to stay active this summer. Teach these three tips to your kids, and you’re ready to hit the pavement. And remember to mark your calendar for CycleFest 2013 on June 22 for bicycle rodeos, tune-up workshops, special giveaways and more!