Bike and Helmet Safety for Kids

Riding a bike is a fun and healthy activity for the entire family, especially during the warm months of the year. When the right safety precautions aren't taken, bike accidents can cause unintentional injuries or even death. Here are some bike safety tips for kids and parents to follow for safe, enjoyable riding year-round.  

Wear a helmet — correctly

Many bike accidents can involve a concussion or traumatic brain injury, so when it comes to safety equipment, nothing is more important than wearing a helmet. Make sure your child has the right size helmet and wears it while riding their bike, skating or scooting.  

Your child’s helmet should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) standards. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows and the straps of the helmet should form a "V" under their ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable, so it does not rock forward, backward or side-to-side. Take the helmet fit test here.

Safety equipment only works if your child wears it. Let them pick out a helmet, kneepads and other accessories in their preferred color and style so they are more excited to wear it on the road.  

Learn and follow rules of the road 

When biking with your children, be sure to teach and model safe behaviors on the road, including: 

  • Ride on the sidewalk, if possible 
  • Use bike lanes whenever you can 
  • Stay on the right side of the road, riding in the same direction as traffic 
  • Try to make eye contact with drivers  
  • Look both ways before crossing the street 
  • Respect traffic lights and road signs  
  • Ride only where it is allowed 
  • Use hand signals to alert drivers and riders when turning or stopping 
  • Always plant feet firmly on the ground when stopped  
  • Keep your hands on both handlebars for control  
  • Don’t ride too close to parked cars and be aware of doors opening

Perform proper bike maintenance 

Some accidents are preventable, especially when it comes to bike equipment. Your child should be riding the proper bike for their size and skill level, and if you are unsure ask a store associate for their expertise. Your child’s feet should touch the ground while sitting and their legs should not be too bent when pedaling. 

Before riding, make sure everything on the bike is working properly. Test the brakes. Secure the pedals and seat properly. Check the tire pressure and make sure the gears and chains are working. Ride along with your child to listen for any noises while in motion. Treat a bike like you would a car by doing regular maintenance checks to help them stay safe on the road. 

Always stay visible 

Riding a bike during the daylight is safer than dusk or dawn. But regardless of the time, there are ways to make bikers more visible to motorists and other riders. Headlights not only allow you to see better but also help others see you. Wearing bright-colored clothing and accessories that have retro-reflective materials also helps improve biker visibility.  

Teach your kids the importance of staying alert while riding their bike. Don’t use anything that distracts from the road, including music, headphones or phones. Adding a bell or horn to their bike can also help alert cars, people, and other bikes of their presence.  

Learn more about Lurie Children’s Injury Prevention & Research Center. 


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