It’s back to school today for the majority of children in the UK, and with that means a return to riding to school on their bicycles. But how confident are you when you watch your beloved hop onto their bike and take off down the road? And bear in mind that the clocks go back in October, barely a month away, which will shorten the evenings, making cycling even more hazardous.
So how can you make sure that your child is safety conscious, and is prepared for the roads this autumn? By following our safety tips and advice, you can ensure that you child will stay safe on their bikes, after all, its a free mode of transport, it’s good for them physically and it’s also great for the environment. So check out our top tips below:
1. First and foremost always wear a safety helmet, and do not allow your child to talk you out of letting them get away with not wearing one. If they won’t wear one, they simply do not use the bike. Check once it is on that it’s secured properly and sits squarely on your child’s head. The straps should form a V shape under the ears, and the helmet should feel snug but not too tight.
2. Now check the bike, it should be road worthy, as with all cars, and the most important safety issue here is the brakes. Get on the bike and test them yourself, making sure they work properly and bring you to an abrupt standstill. Now check the tyre pressures and pump up as necessary. Finally make sure the saddle is not too high. Your child’s feet should just touch the ground. Any higher and they will not be able to control the bike properly.
3. Some children take to cycling like ducks to water, but if your think your child is not quite ready for road traffic, get them on a cycling proficiency course. You should find that your local council hold these in the summer holidays.
4. Make sure your child wears suitable high visibility clothing whilst they are out on their bikes. This could include fluorescent armbands, or neon strips on their jackets. And also ensure that they do not wear inappropriate clothing, such as high heels, flip flops or clothes that will catch on the wheels or brakes.
5. In the autumn and winter it is very important to make sure that your child’s bike is lit up like a lighthouse. So invest in the high tech light gadgets that provide a bright LED light, and make your child unmissable on the roads.
6. Headphones are a definite no-no whilst your child is riding their bike, they won’t be able to hear oncoming traffic or indeed traffic that is approaching them or sounding their horns to warn them. They need all their senses working when riding on the roads.
7. Finally, invest in a proper rucksack or bag that fits on the back of the bike, as many children tend to balance their bags on the handlebars and this makes it very difficult to steer the bike and can unbalance them at crucial times. Bike panniers are inexpensive and much better than a do-it-yourself version.