Teaching Children to Bike Safely

By Rob Baquera, Public Information Officer, Roseville Police Department

Spring is in the air. The sun is out, the weather is warm, and your children are anxious to dust off their bikes and go for a ride. But wait! Make sure your children know how to be safe when out on their bikes. According to kidshealth.org, 300,000 kids a year visit the emergency room for bike related injuries, and at least 10,000 kids sustain injuries that require a few days in the hospital. Unfortunately, some injuries are so severe that children even die. These injuries are usually due to head injuries.  

So before your child heads out with their bicycle, make sure he/she knows how to be safe on the road.  

Safe Riding Tips for Children

  • Wear a properly fitted bike helmet EVERY TIME YOU RIDE, even if you are going for a short ride.  Protect your brain, save your life. By law, bicycle riders under 18 years old must wear a bicycle helmet while riding on a public road (CVC §21212).

  • Ensure your bicycle is the right size and properly adjusted to fit you.
    • A properly-fitted bicycle is more comfortable and easier to control.
    • A bicycle shop can help adjust your bike to fit correctly.
  • Do a safety check on your bike before you ride.  Inflate your tires and check your brakes. (Per CVC §21201(a), it is unlawful to operate a bicycle that is not equipped with functioning brakes.)

  • See and be seen. Wear bright colors when riding and put reflectors on your bike. This will help other people on the road see you. If they see you, they are less apt to run into you.

  • Consider putting restrictions on where your kids are allowed to ride their bike and how far they’re allowed to go. Children under 10 should ride on the sidewalk. Teach them to yield to pedestrians.

  • Watch and avoid road hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, etc.

  • Avoid riding at night. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day. If you must ride at night, make sure you have reflectors as well as a bright light on the front.

As a parent, what else can you do to help ensure the safety of bicycle riders? Here are some tips on how to safely share the road with bicycle riders.

  • Drive cautiously. Reduce your speed when encountering cyclists. Don’t tailgate! Give the cyclist space.
  • Yield to the cyclist. Bicycles are considered vehicles so give them the appropriate right of way.
  • Be considerate. Don’t blast your horn in close proximity to cyclists. Watch for cyclists when opening your door.
  • Pass with care. Allow at least three feet between your vehicle and the bicyclist. If you are unable to pass within three feet of space, pass at a safe speed to not endanger the bicyclist.
  • Watch for children. Children on bicycles are often unpredictable. Expect the unexpected and slow down. Don’t expect children to know traffic laws. Children and also be harder to see due to their size.

Riding a bicycle is great exercise and a lot of fun. However, it can also be dangerous. Take time to teach your child the rules of the road, and how to be safe when out bike riding. It will be time well spent, and you’ll be more at ease knowing your child knows how to ride their bike safely on their own.

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