Now that school is out, your children are enjoying their freedom, playing in the sun and riding bikes. Under Georgia law, a bike is a vehicle, so it is important for kids to understand that they need to follow the rules of the road. Here are some tips on biking safety to keep your loved ones safe.
Bike helmets and safe riding habits
Accidents that happen without a helmet can result in brain injury and upper facial injuries, including loss of teeth. Confirm that your child’s helmet meets safety standards by checking for a sticker from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and making sure the helmet fits snug with the straps secured. Georgia law requires all bicycle riders under the age of 16 wear a helmet.
Remind your kids to only have one rider per bike (no handlebar rides). Pick up a cyclist identification kit, which is typically a sticker listing emergency contact and medical alert information. The sticker can be placed inside the helmet, under the seat, or on the bike frame. There are additional precautions you can take to instill safety habits and equip them with gear that helps keep them out of harm’s way:
- Do not wear hats under a helmet.
- Wear neon, bright colors, avoiding white.
- Be alert for hazards: potholes, surface debris, drain grates, cracked sidewalks, rough pavement, curbs and other items that could cause your child to lose control.
- Ride in the same direction that traffic is moving, and stay to the right.
- Keep both hands on the handlebars.
- Make sure the bike has reflectors, and a light if riding at night.
- Teach them bike signals.
Sidewalk or street riding: when is your child ready?
The Georgia Department of Transportation recommends bicyclists avoid using the sidewalk, unless it is a child. Some communities have laws that prohibit bike riding on sidewalks. For example, in Atlanta, no one older than 13 can ride a bike on the sidewalk. However, the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration recommends that all children under 10 years old ride on the sidewalk, as they lack the capacity to safely ride on streets. Supervise young children and watch out for driveways, which can be just as dangerous as streets, if not more, as drivers typically are not paying attention as closely.
Importantly, if your child is involved in a bicycle accident, save all equipment and clothing from the crash, and make sure they see a doctor immediately following the accident.