No one wants to deny children the fun and freedom that cycling can provide. Probably some of our best childhood memories include riding our bikes to far-away places (well, at least we thought they were far away). Start children out with the proper training, because the roads of today can be a lot different from when many of us were kids. There is more traffic on the road and more distractions than ever.
When children first learn to ride, they should start by riding in places where there are few cars, such as a city park. When they are more familiar with the bike, they should ride on the sidewalks, as long as they are told to stop before driveways. (Check the local laws regarding who is allowed to bike on the sidewalks, and under what conditions, in your community.)
Once the decision is made for them to ride on the road, they should be taught what traffic signs mean and trained to obey the rules of the road. Some of the special rules for bike riders include:
- When leaving the driveway, look both ways for oncoming traffic, including scooters, skateboarders, and other cyclists.
- Ride on the right side of the road.
- Take care when passing parked cars – someone could open the door suddenly.
- Always ride in single file when riding in a group.
- Use hand signals to signal when turning.
Kids should never ride their bikes in heavy traffic – inexperience could lead to tragic results.
Teach children to look over their shoulder and signal before turning, and never to ride their bike across crosswalks or when crossing at traffic lights. And tell them to keep an eye on the road ahead so that they can avoid potential obstacles such as wet leaves, storm grates and gravel that could make them lose their stability and fall off the bike.
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