As our kids head back to school after Summer break, many of them will want to ride their bikes as one of the first steps toward independence. Your child might be excited to ride alongside his or her friends and have fun before and after school, but as a parent, all you can imagine is the list of horrible things that could happen.
Personal injury is something we all risk each day when we choose to do almost any activity. If your child is aware of the risks and how to help prevent accidents and injuries from occurring, he or she will be better prepared to ride a bike safely and effectively.
Allowing your child to ride a bike to school is a big, often scary, step, but there are some key ways you can help prepare your loved one for a safe ride.
Find the Best Route for Bike Riding
It is important to make sure you live in an area that is ideal for riding a bike. Some neighborhoods throughout Lexington are not bike-friendly, in which case you may have to search a little harder for a good alternative route.
The safest ways for your child to ride a bike to school are on bike paths or sidewalks that are wide enough for pedestrians to also utilize. If there are no bike paths or sidewalks available, look for the roadways with the least amount of traffic. It may take some time to gauge high-and-low traffic volumes at the times of day your child will be riding.
When choosing the best roadway, check for the following to ensure your child has the safest experience on the way to and from school.
- Busy intersections. Check for the routes with the fewest intersections. A child is more likely to be injured when crossing an intersection than simply riding down a long, uninterrupted path.
- Distractions. Things like cracks on sidewalks or roadways, pets that are not on leashes, and poor lighting are all things that could be distractions for your child and increase the chances of an accident. A clear pathway is always best.
- Check with other parents. Asking other parents in the area who have already dealt with this is another good way to help you decide on the best route. After all, if it works for them and their children, it may work for you and yours, as well.
Your child’s school or local law enforcement may also have some answers for you. Many schools have guides to help parents and children find the safest routes to school, which can help take all the guesswork out of it for you and offer a safe, proven solution.
Teach Your Child About Bike Safety
Gearing up to ride a bike to school can be an exciting thing for your child, but it is important to teach a child about bike safety basics before he or she hits the road.
First and foremost, safety gear should be worn at all times. Elbow pads, knee pads, and a helmet are the most basic forms of safety gear that should be used when riding a bike in Lexington. As a parent, it is important to ensure all of your child’s safety gear has a snug fit, but does not keep your child from being able to move freely to physically react to any situation.
Wearing bright colors as often as possible is another way your child can exercise bike safety on the way to school. Not every child is going to want to wear bright fluorescent colors everyday, though, so you may also want to look for shoes or a backpack with reflective details to remedy this.
Not only is it important to regularly check your child’s safety gear to make sure it always fits right (kids grow!), it is equally important to check their bike regularly for any damage, loose parts, or other irregularities. If there are any repairs that need to be made, it is important to fix them immediately and let your child know that he or she cannot ride the bike until the repairs are made.
Other than the basics of riding a bike safely, you and your child should also become familiar with the bike laws in your city and state. The bike laws in Kentucky changed last year, so it is important to stay up-to-date on these regulations.
What to do if an Accident Occurs
Keep in mind that accidents happen, even to those of us who feel we are prepared for anything. If your child is in an accident on a bike, do not blame yourself or them for what happened. Mistakes will occur, that is just part of the journey. You likely have the legal right to pursue compensation from the party responsible. If your child is injured in a bike accident due to someone else’s negligence, seeking medical care and reaching out to a personal injury attorney for guidance is a great first step.