Oklahoma Bicycle Manual: Children and Bicycles

Parents are responsible for the education and appropriate actions of young bicyclists. Bicycles are not toys; they are vehicles. Children must be taught to treat them as such.

  • Check with local schools, civic organizations and law enforcement officials for available bicycle training programs. Enroll your child when he/she first receives a bike.

  • Learn the law and safe bicycle handling yourself. then teach your children.

  • Buy your child an approved helmet. Let the child choose the helmet that he/she likes. This will make it easier to encourage using the helmet every time the bicycle is ridden. Remember to set a good example by wearing your helmet.

  • Restrict your child from riding at night or during times of poor visibility.

  • Make sure the child’s bicycle is correctly sized. Check for required equipment and extra devices. Maintain the bike! Your child’s life may depend upon it.

  • Children younger than age 9 typically are not able to identify and adjust to many traffic conditions. Parents should consider restricting children age 8 or younger to areas without regular motor vehicle traffic.

Remember that a child’s perception, as well as physical ability, is different from an adult’s.

  • They may not have fully developed peripheral vision, which can restrict them from seeing danger.

  • They may not be able to determine the direction a sound, such as from a car, is coming from.

  • They often do not have a sense of danger.

  • They have a hard time determining when their actions may cause them harm.

  •  They have trouble judging the speed and distance of approaching vehicles.

  • Children are impatient. They may not wait for safe situations, such as a green light or a clear crossing.

  • Children are easily distracted. Something that interests them may distract them from their attention to the bicycle and traffic.

  • Their games and fantasy can impede the safe operation of their bicycle.

  • Children often believe their parents, or other adults, will look out for their safety. They think adults will watch for and warn them of danger, or prevent it from affecting them. They also may assume that an adult motorist will see and avoid them.

  • Children are vulnerable to the pressures of other children to do things that might not be safe.

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, more than 50 percent of child fatalities occur when a child rides out into the street from a sidewalk and collides with a car. More than 60 percent of child injuries and fatalities occur at intersections. Almost half of all bike-related deaths involve children 14 and younger.

TRANSPORTING CHILDREN

Young children should be transported with bicycles by using a bicycle child seat or a bicycle trailer.

A bicycle child seat mounted to the hack of an adults’ cycle causes the bicycle to be harder to operate. The extra weight combined with the high center of gravity and a moving child creates an extra challenge for the rider. The child should be taught to remain relatively still, and the cyclist must use extra caution while maneuvering.

Always place and remove the child while the bicycle is leaning against a stationary object to prevent the bicycle from moving.

Trailers are a very good alternative for transporting your child. They provide stability and extra room for comfort to the child. They are more visible and have less effect upon the balance of the rider.

Children should always wear their helmets, even as passengers. Wait until the child can wear a helmet before transporting them with your bike. Children younger than one year old will often not have developed enough neck strength to support a helmet.

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