RIDING BIKES TO SCHOOL|
Whether out of necessity or for fun, many of these children choose to ride their bikes to school. Unfortunately, bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any consumer product other than the automobile. To keep your child safe, follow these safety tips:
Bike helmets should be worn at all times when bicycling. Head injury is the leading cause of death in bike crashes. Head injuries account for more than 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths and about one-third of hospital emergency room bicycle-related visits. Bike helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Purchase an approved bike helmet for each child and make sure that it is worn correctly every time the child rides his or her bike.
Evaluate whether children are ready to ride on the road without direct adult supervision. Children under age ten do not have the necessary skills to judge the speed or distance of oncoming traffic. Also, their peripheral vision is 1/3 less than that of adults.
Plan a safe cycling route with your children and ride it with them. A safe cycling route to school may not be the same as a safe walking route. Streets with a steady flow of fast-moving traffic are not appropriate for young cyclists with limited traffic experience.
Follow the rules of the road. Children who ride bikes to school should be taught to follow the rules of the road that apply to all vehicles. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against traffic; use appropriate hand signals; respect traffic signals; stop and look left, right and left again before crossing the street and any intersections.
Don't ride at night. Riding at dawn, dusk or night is nearly four times more risky for children ages 14 and under than riding during the daytime.
Schools should provide cyclists with "safe areas." Bike racks should be placed in areas where there are few motor vehicles and pedestrians. Avoid drop-off and pick-up zones in school parking lots.