In association with Cycle Claim Line
Thinking of teaching your child how to ride a bike this half term? Brush up on our top safety tips before you hit the park…
Each day in the UK, there are more than 1.9 million people who use their bicycle to get from place to place. Another 2.6 million ride a bike two times per week, with even more cycling at least once per month. Some adults ride for the pure leisure enjoyment while others use cycling as a way to get the most out of their commute. But adults are not the other cyclists on the roads today. Children take part in cycling as a way to get outside and enjoy the weather, to play with friends, and in some cases, to follow in the path of their cycling parents.
Teaching a child to ride a bicycle for the first time is a significant milestone for many UK parents, but the task comes with a variety of challenges. Parents must take care to ensure their child is riding in a safe way, particularly when they venture out on their own. In a recent research study funded by a specialist in bike accident claims, the reality of cycling accidents and resulting injuries gives parents a reason for pause. The research found that an estimated one-third of cyclists experienced an accident that resulted in an injury within the last five years. While most accidents noted in the study were minor, a large number of cyclist incidents involved interaction or collision with another vehicle on the road. When children experience a cycling accident that includes a much larger vehicle, they stand to have an injury that is devastating as well as traumatising.
To help avoid accidents that could lead the life-changing outcomes for children, parents can take the following steps to ensure their young cyclists are safe while using the road…
Know the rules of the road
It is common sense to recognise there are rules for road users, specifically for drivers of vehicles, but it may be surprising to know that there are also rules for cyclists using UK roadways and bike paths. The government has established an extensive list of road rules for cyclists, including how to properly use cycle routes, tracks and lanes. The rules for highway use also include detailed guidance for clothing best-suited for cyclists, for day and night rides, as well as protective gear required by law. Parents can do their children a favour by teaching them these rules as they learn to ride, and by following those rules themselves.
Selecting the right bicycle
One of the first steps in educating a child about cycling is how to use the bicycle properly, but this begins with having the right bike in the first place. Parents are often drawn toward bicycles that may initially seem too large for the child as a way to save time and money down the line given the child will grow into the purchase bicycle. Unfortunately, riding a bicycle that is too tall or too short may set children up for failure during any given ride. Parents should select a bicycle that gives enough room for the knees to freely move without hitting the handlebars, and at a height that allows the balls of the feet to comfortably touch the ground. There are many bicycles made for children that have adjustable handlebars and seats to ensure the right fit is set from the start.
Maintenance and cleaning
Another critical aspect of safe bicycle riding is ongoing maintenance and cleaning, although this is often the most overlooked factor in safety. Cleaning the bicycle after each ride prevents dust and debris from building up over time. When a bicycle is not cleaned properly or thoroughly, dirt can lead to preventable accidents when it locks up the brakes or chains of the bicycle. In addition to cleaning consistently, parents should check the brakes and tires periodically to ensure every aspect of the bicycle is functioning properly. Over time, children can be taught how to take these simple steps to improve their cycling safety on the road.
Protective gear for each ride
The final step in preparing children to ride a bicycle safely is requiring them to wear protective gear on each and every outing. Children should always be armed with a well-fitted helmet, and they are encouraged to wear elbow and knee pads when they venture out on their own. Cyclists of any age also benefit from wearing protective eye gear, including sunglasses, or clear or yellow-tinted glasses, to prevent debris from entering the eye and sun glares during a ride. These safety tips for parents are simple but all-important in giving children the best chance of enjoying their cycling experiences without accidents and injuries.