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Bicycle Safety

During these warm summer months, and as our children head back to school, they are likely still enjoying riding their bicycles. Bicycling can be an enjoyable form of physical activity for children and adolescents, and is a clean and efficient mode of transportation, especially for short neighborhood trips. We need to make sure that we protect our children as they ride bikes. This is to ensure that it will be a safe and fun activity. Among all recreational sports, cycling causes the greatest number of injuries that result in emergency room visits for children and adolescents. In fact, 300,000 kids go the Emergency Room annually because of bike injuries. Traumatic brain injury accounts for two thirds of all bicycle-related fatalities.

How can we keep our children safe as they ride their bikes? Your child/adolescent should wear a bike helmet each time he/she rides a bike, even if it is for a very short distance. Using a bicycle helmet can prevent or lessen the severity of brain injury during a crash. Helmets work by absorbing some of the energy of a hit. This distributes the sharp energy peak of the blow over a larger area, and over a slightly longer period of time. Studies have shown that wearing a helmet may prevent up to 88% of serious brain injuries. It also can prevent up to 65% of other head and facial injuries.

Make sure your child is wearing their helmet correctly. A properly fitted bike helmet should be worn level and cover the forehead. The straps should always be fastened. You may need to install or remove pads to ensure the helmet fits snugly. You should only be able to insert two fingers between your chin and the strap when fastened properly. Remember also to replace your helmets after 5 years of use, or after any accident where the helmet hit a hard surface.

If your child is riding in the street, remind him/her to follow these basic safety rules:

  • Always keep your hands on the handle bars.
  • Always stop and check both directions when leaving the driveway.
  • Cross at intersections and walk your bike across busy intersections.
  • Ride on the right hand side of the street, never ride against traffic.
  • Use bike lanes where available.
  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic laws.
  • When passing other bikers or people on the street, always pass on the left and call out “on your left” so they know you are coming.

Parents should wear a helmet when they ride too, to model safe behavior for their children!

Source – and Pediatrics Vol 108, No.4 Oct 2001

© 2011 Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
PAMPA is a pediatric medical practice in north Atlanta, Georgia consisting of twelve pediatricians, five nurses,
and four locations in Roswell, Woodstock, Atlanta, and Marietta. area.
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