Keeping kids active today is essential, which is why the National Walk to School Day was held in 1997. Eventually, the National Bike to School Day was added in 2012, and these events have been hosted each year since. Schools across the country are encouraged to participate, motivate students, and even give incentives for students to walk or bike year-round for health, independence, and social reasons.
If your child plans to bike to school for this year’s event being held May 9, 2018, the team at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. want to help keep everyone safe. That is why we have compiled a list of tips so that everyone has a great experience while participating in this year’s event.
Essential Safety Tips for Walking and Biking to School in Fort Lauderdale
Whether riding a block or more than a few blocks away, it is essential that you teach your child how to ride alongside pedestrians, other cyclists and, of course, motor vehicles.
Bikes Need Maintenance Too
You maintain your vehicle by taking it to the mechanic for oil changes, tire rotations, and a quick look over. Bikes need maintenance just like vehicles. So, do a quick check of your child’s bike and teach your child how to do it as well. For example, things to check before each ride include:
- Checking to ensure that the tires have enough air;
- Making sure the chain is intact;
- Checking brakes to ensure that they work properly; and
- Guaranteeing the helmet still fits your child and that they know how to secure it in place.
Consider the Clothing
When your child is riding his or her bike to school, their clothing options will be limited. Naturally, you do not want long skirts or bulky clothing that might get caught in the chain or in the spokes of the tire. Make sure your child is appropriately dressed in proper clothes to ensure that their clothes do not get caught in the chain. Also, consider the likelihood your child might fall and possibly have them wear pants on bike-riding days to prevent scrapes and cuts on their legs.
Check the Weather
While your child might have their bike ready to go, what does the weather say? Technically, your child can ride their bike in any type of weather. But when it is cold, dark, and rainy, there is a higher risk for motor vehicles not seeing your child on the road. Consider letting smaller children only ride to school when the weather is warm and clear. If your child is older and still wants to ride in the rain, make sure they have a rainproof jacket with a hood so that they stay dry.
Create a Route and Run It
Create a specific route your child can take to school and home. Run it with your child until you are certain they have it memorized. Also, make sure they know how to cross each intersection, react to stop signs, and ride with the rules of the road in mind.
Have the Proper Safety Essentials Ready to Go
Your child needs the necessary safety essentials before they go out, which include:
- Helmet – Every child should wear a helmet, and most states require that children under the age of 18 wear helmets while riding. Take your child shopping for a helmet and buy one that is not only suitable for the child’s age but also fits their head well. Have them try it on and ensure it is snug, but not too snug. If your child has had a few accidents or the helmet they already have has scratches and dents, it is time to replace it. Helmets do not last forever. Therefore, avoid passing helmets down and buy your child a new one when they start riding for the first time.
- Knee and Elbow Pads – Younger children are prone to falling over on their bike more than older children, especially when coming to a stop or going over curbs. Consider having your child wear protective gear on their elbows and knees until they are more stable.
- Chain or Lock – Once your child gets their bike to school, they need a way to secure it. Most bike storage in schools are located outside. Therefore, anyone could come by and take a bike. Show your child how to secure their bike into the rack and consider a key combo over a physical lock and key – in case the key is lost.
Looking Both Ways
Even if your child has the right of way or the “walk” sign is up, teach your child to be aware of his or her surroundings. That means always looking both ways before crossing the street. They should also know to make eye contact with the motorist at the stop sign or light to ensure that they are seen.
Ride on the Right Side of the Road
Your child should ride on the right side of the road and follow alongside traffic. They should never ride opposite of the oncoming traffic. Most children can ride safely on the sidewalk. However, if the city or county prohibits it, show your child how to use the bike lane properly.
Was Your Child Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Contact an Attorney Right Away
Even if your child follows the rules and does their part to stay safe, sometimes motorists fail to look out for cycling children. When an accident occurs between a vehicle and child, the injuries are often catastrophic. Hold drivers accountable for their failure to look out for small children and get compensation for your child’s medical costs, pain, suffering, and permanent injuries.