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Bicycle Safety

Bicycle Safety InformationRocky Mountain Hospital for Children at The Medical Center of Aurora

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at The Medical Center of Aurora

Bicycle riding is a safe, healthy way for parents to encourage independence. However, it is vital to teach your children that bicycles are considered vehicles so safety is paramount and rules of the road apply. 

Bicycle-related crashes that result in death or injury often are directly correlated to the bicyclist's behavior. Serious harm can result from things such as not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic. Teach your child to always wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road (don't forget to demonstrate the behavior yourself!).

Safe Riding

Make sure the bike is ready to ride.

Inspection: Are all parts are secure and working properly?

  • Air -- Ensure tires are properly inflated.
  • Brakes -- Ensure the breaks work properly.
  • Chain -- Ensure the chain is in good, working condition.
  • Seat -- Make any adjustments to the seat to ensure it is at the proper height.

Fit: Check the fit of your child's helmet. Use the three "S" rule:

  • Straight -- If you place two fingers on your child's eyebrow-- do you touch the rim of the helmet?
  • Snapped -- Is the buckle snapped and the straps make a "V" under the ears?
  • Snug -- Is the helmet snug to the head? It should not move side to side when your child shakes his/her head.

Rules of Bicycle Safety

Be Seen.

No matter what time of day, it is important to your child can be seen by others. Have him/her wear bright, neon or fluorescent clothing to make your child as visible as possible. When riding near the road, have your child wear something that reflects the light such as reflective tape or markings or flashing lights. Remind your child that just because you can see a driver doesn't mean that the driver can see you.

Get Control.

Stay in control of your bike with at least one hand on the handlebars. Use a backpack or bike carrier to carry books or other items. 

Be Alert for Road Hazards.

Hazards such as potholes, gravel, puddles, leaves and dogs can cause crashes. Teach your child to be alert for such hazards and to use bike courtesy-- when in the lead and riding with friends, yell out to alert the riders behind you.

Avoid Riding at Night.

Try to avoid riding at night, but if your child has to be out after dark, be sure he/she uses reflectors on the front and rear of the bicycle (in many states, white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law). Use reflectors on the tires also, so others can easily see him/her.

Rules of the Road - Bicycling on the Road

Many state laws consider bicycles vehicles. As such, cyclists have the same rights and the same responsibilities as motorists.

Ride With the Flow of Traffic.

Ride on the right and in the same direction of vehicles.

All Traffic Laws Apply.

When riding on the street, cyclists must obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. Remember, bicycles are vehicles and cyclists are drivers. 

Yield to Traffic When Appropriate.

Usually, drivers on a smaller road yield to the traffic on a larger road. If the biker is coming from a smaller roadway (driveway, a sidewalk, a bike path, etc.) and there is no stop sign or traffic signal and,  slow down and look to see if the way is clear before proceeding. Bikers also yield to pedestrians who have entered the crosswalk.

Be Predictable.

Ride in a straight line and signal moves to others. Don't ride in and out of cars.

Bicycle Signals

Always Stay Alert.

Don't allow your child to wear earbuds when riding and teach them to keep eyes out for road hazards and ears out for traffic and danger. 

Look Before Turning.

When turning either left or right, look behind for a break in traffic, then signal for the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.

Watch for Parked Cars.

Ride with enough distance from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (like doors opening, or cars pulling out).

Sidewalk versus Street Riding

Because bicycles are expected to follow the same rules of the road as motorists and ride in the same direction, the safest place for mature bicycle riding is on the street.

However, children under 10 typically are not mature enough to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street. Do not allow children under 10 to ride on the road-- allow them to ride on the sidewalk.

Sidewalk bicycling:

  • Be sure that the law in your area allows sidewalk riding.
  • Stay alert for cars coming out of or turning into driveways.
  • Stop at sidewalks and street corners to look for cars. Ensure drivers see you before crossing.

HealthONE can provide you with a bicycle or multi-sport helmet for a low-cost donation. Contact Tracey Holmberg at 303-788-5358 to learn more.

For more bicycle safety information, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) Web site.

For more information on Colorado bicycle laws, visit http://colobikelaw.com/law.php.