Bicycling with Kids

As we quickly approach the long holiday weekend we thought it would be a good time to go over some safety tips for biking with kids.  Whether biking on Alki, the Burke Gilman Trail, or around a campground this weekend, here are a few basics to keep in mind before the wheels start turning.

A helmet is a necessity and is, in fact, required by law. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 51,000 cyclists were injured in collisions in 2009.  Seventeen percent of those injury collisions involved children age 14 and younger.  Helmets have been proven effective at preventing head injuries.  Of course the helmet must fit properly to be useful and your local bike shop can fit the helmet to your child’s head.

Whether you bike regularly or not, a few pre-ride maintenance checks can prevent crashes. Test the brakes to ensure that they are functioning properly.  Are the handlebars, seat, and wheels secured to the frame?  How about the tires, do they have the right amount of air pressure?  These same checks should be made to bicycle trailers that smaller children ride in.  Make sure the tow arm is securely mounted to your bike, the wheels are fixed, and the kids are tightly strapped in their chariot. 

Kids love the Bike Trailer!

It’s always a good idea to wear bright clothing when biking.  This is especially true for children since they are not as easily seen as adults due their smaller stature.  By wearing bright clothing you help others see you on the road.  Speaking of attire, shoelaces and baggy pants can get caught in the chain and cause serious problems.  Make sure everything is well tucked before you ride.  Reflectors and lamps also improve visibility.  These items are required for riding at night in Seattle but they’re generally a good safety precaution for any time of day.

Parents should lead by example when biking with kids.  Follow the rules of the road and avoid making sudden movements that may confuse drivers, pedestrians, and fellow bikers.  Stop at stop signs and signals and for pedestrians where required. 

Have a fun and safe Independence Day weekend!