Bike safety

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
Bicycles are a big part of many kids' lives, but it's important to keep in mind that a bicycle is a vehicle, not a toy. Many children are injured each year in bicycle accidents that could've been prevented. Some areas to consider about bicycle safety include: buying the right bike, wearing a helmet, maintaining the equipment properly, learning cycling skills, and driving in traffic. Buy a bike according to the child's size, rather than age. Don't buy one too large, with the idea of the child growing into it. Younger children should have training wheels and single-speed bikes with a coaster brake, rather than hand brakes. Even though you might like to surprise the child, it's best to take him or her to the shop to ensure a proper fit before buying. Buy a helmet at the same time, and insist that the child wear one every time he or she gets on the bike, no matter how short the trip. Some municipalities have ordinances requiring both children and adult cyclists to wear a helmet. Make sure the bike has the proper equipment, and that it's in good condition. Inspect it from time to time to make sure it's well maintained. Basic biking skills can be taught in a few hours, or you may want to enroll the child in a bicycle training program. The child will need to learn balance, pedaling, braking, steering, turning around, and emergency stopping and turning. There are many safety rules for driving on the road, whether for pleasure, to school, or for running errands. Children six years old and under always should ride with adult supervision, even on a sidewalk. Before allowing children to use their bikes on the street, make sure they've developed a good attitude and have a proper understanding of the rules of the road.

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