Bicycle Safety - Beginner To Advanced

FamilyParenting

  • Author Jim Nugent
  • Published November 29, 2011
  • Word count 613

Bicycle fatalities are 11 times higher per kilometer than car fatalities. Aside from a select few European cities, cyclists have extremely pronounced risks of injury relative to other modes of transport in most developed countries. However, there are numerous safety habits you can adopt to greatly reduce the risk of an accident.

This article is broken down into two sections: an overview of what to teach a child who is first learning to cycle; and a list of techniques that advanced cyclists should implement to ensure they are minimizing their risk on the road.

  • Children first learning to ride - In 2005 in the United States, children under 15 made up 53% of bicycle injuries treated in emergency departments. The most important stage in learning to cycle is the preliminary stage of setting good habits which last a lifetime. In the early stages of your child learning to cycle, it is preferable you watch them cycling and give them safety advice. Pay attention to where your child looks and try and guide them toward being more conscious of what is around them. This will lay the groundwork for them to be aware of cars. In addition, there are a number of rules that will greatly minimize their risk of an accident:
  • Only ever ride on the footpath. Get off your bicycle and walk when crossing the road. Look both ways before crossing.

  • Keep both hands on the handlebars at all times.

  • Stop at all signs and obey all traffic signals.

  • Do not ride in the dark.

  • Do not ride too fast and be on a constant lookout for cars reversing out of driveways.

  • Always go with the flow of traffic. Cars coming out of laneways, alleys or driveways will always look in the direction of oncoming traffic.

  • Check your brakes and tires weekly.

  • Children with more cycling experience - Teenagers are infamous for taking risks. Accordingly, this period in a person's life is when their risk of injury peaks. It is a good idea to go for a bike ride with your child with them in the lead. Observe how they negotiate traffic and that they observe good bicycle safety procedures. As your child migrates to cycling on the road, they will be at increased risk and a few new guidelines may help:
  • It is important to note that you are not nearly as visible as cars and not all cars behave perfectly. A lot of drivers make mistakes, but a cyclist has much more at stake in the case of an accident. You must ride defensively and assume that motorists have not seen you.

  • When approaching an intersection, regardless of whether there is a stop sign or red traffic signal, stop to check that no cars are coming.

  • If you ever have doubts about whether it is safe to proceed, don't proceed.

  • If you are riding after dusk or before dawn, make sure you have functioning lights, reflectors and preferably reflective clothing.

  • Check your brakes and tires weekly.

  • If changing lanes through traffic to do a turn, headcheck to be sure it is safe. This should be for more advanced cyclists who have at least two years of experience cycling on the road.

Riding a bike is one of the most liberating steps forward in childhood. With this great new skill comes responsibility and it is important to stress the dangers to your child. It is also highly recommended that you compare cycle insurance policies and look into protecting yourself and your children to avoid huge costs in the case of theft or an accident. With the right attitude, we can continue to reduce childhood injuries and embrace a cleaner, healthier mode of transport. Happy cycling!

The author is a keen touring cyclist having toured through Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and the United States. He has lived in many countries and dealt with many different insurance companies in various legal systems.

His website lets people compare cycle insurance policies and choose what's right for them. It also covers bicycle safety in more detail.

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