Now's a good time to get your child's bike road-ready

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KidsBothGlidersIt is slowly starting to warm up.  My children are eager to start playing outside and now that we are in daylight saving time, there is more daylight to do that.  Channel 4 recently did a report on child bike safety that I thought was very helpful and wanted to share…
Channel 4 reports that it is time to make sure your child’s bike is road-ready as we move into springtime.  Cleveland Clinic Children’s Pediatrician Dr. Mike Macknin says your safety check should start with a look at the bike’s height.  “Parents may have gotten a bike for Christmas that they want their child to grow into. You might want to think about that before you put a child on a bike where they can barely reach the pedals and have trouble stopping,” explained Macknin.  The bike’s frame should not be bent and the seat and handlebars need to be adjusted to the proper height.  You should also make sure the bike has reflectors on both the front and the back.  A chain guard to keep your child’s pants from getting caught is a good idea too.  You also want to make sure their wheels don’t wobble and that the tires are filled with enough air.  Macknin says that once you have the bike in tip-top shape, your child will need a good fitting helmet, too.  “You can tell it fits when it fits snugly and they can move their head around and it doesn’t bounce around, even without the strap,” he said.  (For more information regarding [proper fit for a bicycle helmet see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication  œEasy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet. )   Macknin says to look for a sticker from the Consumer Product Safety  Commission stating your child’s helmet meets all federal safety standards.  See below for additional safety tips from NHTSA.
Safe Riding Tips 

  • Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit. Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.
  • See and Be Seen. Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you need to be seen by others. Wearing white has not been shown to make you more visible. Rather, always wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.
  • Control Your Bicycle. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.
  • Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. If you are riding with friends and you are in the lead, yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you.
  • Avoid Riding at Night. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law in many States), in addition to reflectors on your tires, so others can see you.

Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including such things as not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running a stop sign, and riding the wrong way in traffic. To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road.
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