Tykes on Bikes: Keeping Them Safe
As a resident doctor, I cared for an eight year old boy named Kyle. Kyle had been riding his bike when a police officer stopped him for not wearing a helmet. After a stern warning, Kyle made sure to wear his helmet the following day, and that was the day that his bike was struck by a car. He suffered significant injuries and had a long road to recovery, but his bike helmet saved his life.
Riding a bike is a great way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. However, precautions need to be taken to minimize the risk of serious injury or death. Most importantly, helmets must be worn at all times while on a bike.
Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that 91% of bicyclists killed in 2009 were not wearing helmets. Parents should model good behavior by always wearing their helmet when biking. Children in bike seats and bicycle-towed trailers also require helmets, and kids under one year of age should not ride along because they do not have the neck strength required to wear a helmet.
Young children should only be carried on bikes by adult passengers, and preferably on bike paths or quiet streets, in good weather, and at reduced speeds. There is no consensus as to whether a rear-mounted seat or a trailer is safer for children, and each has its own set of specific risks. Parents should check with the manufacturer of these devices to determine the ages at which they are safe to use.
Older children who ride bikes must wear a helmet with every bike ride and know the rules of the road. They should ride in the same direction as traffic, and they should use appropriate hand signals to show their intended actions. Kids who can not use hand signals without swerving or falling should not ride in the street. Children should not bike at dusk or after dark.
More information on bike safety can be found at the following websites:
The Kohl’s Safety Center, located on the first floor of the American Family Children’s Hospital, offers $10 helmets for bicyclists aged 1 year through adult. Learn more about the Kohl’s Safety Center