Teaching your children to cycle to school safely

Is your child's bike roadworthy? Do they know the rules of the road? Are they wearing a helmet?

As school goes back in just a few days there will be many more children and teens on the roads, sidewalks and crosswalks.

It is the responsibility of our entire community to keep them safe!

If your child cycles to school there are some important things to consider before they head out the door. Are they wearing a helmet, and does it fit properly?

In B.C. helmets are required by law, but it only makes sense to protect our vulnerable brains from damage. Most bicycle accidents are just falls and do not involve another vehicle and protecting your child’s head from the hard pavement could prevent permanent brain damage or even death.

Is your child wearing clothing that is visible on the road? Could any of your child’s clothing get caught in the spokes or chain and cause a fall?

Does your child know the rules of the road? Do they know that they must obey stop signs and traffic lights and crosswalks just as cars do? Do they know that they should stop and check for traffic when leaving a driveway or the curbside?

Do they know that they must walk their bikes across crosswalks as they are behaving as a pedestrian? Do they know that they need to ride far enough away from parked cars to avoid an opening door?

Do they know how to shoulder check for traffic and how to signal correctly? Do they know that is unsafe to wear headphones when cycling since they cannot hear the traffic around them?

As a parent it is your responsibility to make sure your child’s bike is roadworthy.

Check your child’s bike frequently to ensure the tires are inflated correctly, check the brakes to make sure they are fully effective and that your child’s hands are big enough to use them properly. Check the height of the seat and handlebars as your child grows.

Clean the chain regularly to make sure the gears change smoothly.  If you are unsure about maintenance, or identify a problem you cannot fix, take the bicycle into one of the several bike shops in our communities.

One of the best ways to help kids learn safe bike riding is to set a good example by following the rules of the road yourself. Most important, always wear your helmet. Go for bike rides with your kids so you can show them what safe riding looks like.

It’s also a great way to stay active as a family and get valuable together time that you can all enjoy!

Drivers, please remember that children and teens do not have the awareness of adults and may not cycle or walk as an adult does.  They are vulnerable and need us to be careful, patient, and understanding.

It is more important to keep our children safe than to race to the next red light!

The  Comox Valley Cycling Coalition will offer safe cycling rodeos at the Comox Valley elementary schools in the fall. Please check with your child’s principal for further information.

Margaret Harris, president of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition, writes Shifting Gears. It appears every fourth week.

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