Bikes are a fantastic way to get around. Not only do they help keep riders fit, but they do little damage to the environment either. Bikes are powered by the riders own energy so there are no chemicals involved or waste resulting from their use. Bikes are also incredibly sturdy and made from mainly recyclable materials so they can be reused for years and when they are no longer able to be used they can be recycled rather than thrown away. Children should be taught the many benefits of bike riding early in life and trained in personal and road safety while bicycling. Only then can they truly do the least harm possible - to themselves and the earth.
Bikes and Personal SafetyA child should wear a bike helmet each and every time (s)he gets on a bike. This is because children tend to ride their bikes often and not always on the road, have less experience at riding their bikes and because children may not have the muscle control or motor coordination that will keep them from falling, running into something or even being able to swerve to avoid something that may run into them.
To keep them from harm, it should be made clear to children that a helmet protects their head and therefore should always be worn. Some parents also like their children to wear elbow and knee pads when they go out riding, and proper bike maintenance and parental supervision will also help keep children safe when playing with their bikes. Discussions about road safety and the laws that govern bike riding should also become common place in households that encourage bike riding. When all of these factors are added together then the chances of true personal safety on bikes become much higher.
Bikes and Road SafetyThe Highway Code is the foremost document covering road safety in the United Kingdom and a large chunk of it is devoted to cyclists. The Code include rules for cyclists such as clothing to be worn, general rules for all drivers such as signals and speed limits, special instructions for bicyclists to use extra care on the roads, the actual rules of using the roads such as overtaking and roundabouts, and regulations about the use of roads undergoing road works. While children will obviously not be expected to read and regurgitate the Code, they can be trained for proper road safety. For example, the CycleSense campaign (www.cyclesense.net) breaks down information on training, protection, visibility, maintenance, awareness and road rules into lessons that children can understand. The National Standard for Cycle Training also breaks down training into three age categories (ages 7 - 8, ages 9 -10, ages 11 -12). To contact the National Cycle Training Helpline call 0870 607 0415.
Bike safety should be a concern of all parents. Children can gain great benefits from riding their bikes, but only if they can do so safely. Making sure that their riding does no harm to themselves or the environment is an important part of teaching children to ride their bikes and to use the roads responsibly.