Seven tips for riding safely back to school
It’s not many days now until most children go back to school. For some it will be the first foray into riding to school and for others getting back into a healthy and fun routine. Either way it’s a good time to remind your kids about the importance of riding safely:
1. Firstly you should ensure they always wear a helmet. Protecting your head is all important for obvious reasons and a brightly coloured helmet improves their visibility. The helmet needs to be in good condition with no cracks or chips and have a standards approved sticker. The helmet should be straight on the head and strapped on firmly, without being too tight. They should also wear bright clothing and closed-in shoes (not jandals).
2. Ensure their bike is in a safe condition to ride. No loose bits, brakes working properly, tyres pumped up and, everything that needs to be, well-lubricated, especially the chain (not the brake pads!). It may pay to take the bike into your bike shop for a quick check up especially if it hasn’t been ridden for awhile.
3. You should ride with your child until you are confident they can manage the traffic alone. The minimum recommended age to cycle alone is 10 years, but you need to assess your own child’s ability.
4. Your children need to learn balance when turning and signalling. Teach them this in a quiet street so they can get their confidence.
5. Point out potential hazards and help them make good choices when they ride. Teach them to concentrate, be aware of traffic at all times and ride defensively.
6. Make sure they know the road rules and obey them, including understanding signs and traffic lights. You can teach them while you’re out riding together.
7. Teach them to keep to the left of the road and at least one metre from the kerb or parked vehicles. They should also ride smoothly and predictably in a straight line, not weaving in and out of parked vehicles.
Children should enjoy riding to school. It’s great for health and fitness and can give them confidence and independence at a relatively early age. If both you and they know they are riding smart safe from the beginning it increases the enjoyment factor for everyone.