When a child receives his or her first tricycle or bicycle, a lifelong pattern of vehicle operation is begun. A bike is not just a toy, but a vehicle that is a speedy means of transportation, subject to the same laws as motor vehicles.
1. Parents should set limits on where children may ride, depending on their age and maturity. Most serious injuries occur when the bicyclist is hit by a motor vehicle.
a. Young children should ride only with adult supervision and off the street.
b. The decision to allow older children to ride in the street should depend on traffic patterns, individual maturity, and an adequate knowledge and ability to follow the “Rules of the Road.”
2. Children must be provided with helmets (approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC]) and taught to wear them properly on every ride, starting when they get their first bike or tricycle.
3. The most important “Rules of the Road” for them to learn are:
a. Ride with traffic.
b. Stop and look both ways before entering the street.
c. Stop at all intersections, marked and unmarked.
d. Before turning, use hand signals and look all ways.
4. Children should never ride at dusk or in the dark. This is extremely risky for children and adults. Your child should be told to call home for a ride rather than ride a bike.
5. Children should receive training in bicycle riding, including “Rules of the Road,” and should have their privilege with the bike withheld if they ignore safety rules or don't wear a helmet.
6. Children should learn how to keep their bikes in good repair, with parents checking the tires, brakes, and seat and handlebar height annually.
Copyright © 1994 American Academy of Pediatrics. All rights reserved.