Cycling is a great way for children to get out and about, and keep fit and healthy. In fact, many schools now encourage and support cycling as part of active travel to and from school.
Even if your child won’t be cycling on busy roads just yet, it’s still important to teach them some basic safe cycling tips.
There are some basic safety checks you should carry out before letting your child ride any bike:
- it should be the right size, i.e. they should be able to touch the ground with one foot when they are sitting on the saddle
- check your child can comfortably reach the brakes and that they are working (push the bike forwards to check the front brakes and backwards to check the rear brakes)
- check the tyres have sufficient air in them and they are not worn
- make certain the handlebars work properly (and don’t move in ways they shouldn’t)
- check the seat doesn’t wobble.
If your child is likely to be riding their bike between dusk and dawn, their bike should have the following lights fitted:
- white front light
- red rear light
- red rear reflector
- pedal reflectors.
Clothes and bags
Your child will be more visible to other vehicles and pedestrians if they are wearing Hi Viz, reflective or bright clothing; however, this might not always be possible. As a general rule, make sure your child:
- wears clothing that is suitable for the weather
- avoids loose clothing that might get caught in the bike’s moving parts
- does not dangle things on the handlebars as this can affect the steering
- wears a rucksack so their hands are free.
Cycle helmets can save lives and reduce the risk of serious injury; however, it’s important that they fit properly and are put on correctly. Follow these tips to ensure your child is as safe as possible:
- measure the circumference of your child’s head just above their eyebrows
- match their head size to the size on the helmet
- try to move the helmet around on their head – it should not move very much
- the straps must go around their ears, not over them
- the buckle should be under their chin, not on the jaw bone
- adjust the helmet if necessary, you may need to use the adjuster pads
- wear the helmet level, not tilted – your child’s forehead should not be exposed
- check your child can see clearly
- if the helmet does not fit snugly, try another helmet.
Always replace a helmet if your child has been in a collision or it has been dropped. Even if the helmet does not look damaged, a hard knock will weaken it and it will no longer provide protection.
Never put stickers or paint on the helmet, these will weaken the structure.
Clean a helmet with a soft cloth and water.