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Are you the parent yelling “Don’t forget your helmet!” after your child runs out the door to ride her bike? Do you find yourself on “helmet patrol” when you are out on a welk – reminding all the neighborhood kids to wear helmets? We thank you for your service! As parents and pediatricians, we love bike riding for the great exercise and fun it provides, but we also remember that safety is a top priority.

Safety starts with picking out the right size helmet and bike. I can still remember going to the store when I was a child to pick out my very first bike and matching helmet – sparkly pink and purple, of course! Besides color, you should also evaluate the following factors:

Choosing the right size bicycle:

  • Children aged 5 to 6 are usually ready for a 2-wheeled bike.
  • Allow your child to try out the bike in the store to ensure proper fitting and do not buy an over-sized bike.
  • Here are 3 tests to ensure proper fit:
  • While sitting on the seat with hands on handlebar, your child should be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground.
  • When straddling the center bar, your child should be able to stand with both feet on the ground with a 1-inch clearance between the crotch and the bar.
  • If your child is older and you are purchasing a bike with hand brakes, ensure your child can comfortably grasp the brakes and apply sufficient pressure.

Choosing the right helmet:

  • Only buy a helmet that meets the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Check the inside of the helmet for this label.
  • Do not use any other type of helmet for bike riding (i.e. football helmets, etc.).
  • A hard or soft-shell helmet is acceptable; they are made of different materials and vary in their heaviness/durability.

Learning to ride a bike is a huge milestone in your child’s life and a very exciting time filled with a new sense of freedom and independence. It is important to reinforce these rules to avoid injury causing falls (unfortunately broken bones and head trauma are not uncommon in bike accidents) Our hope is to see you and your child in our office for well-child checks only and not in the emergency room!  Make sure to review the following with your bike rider:

Basic safety tips and “Rules of the Road”:

  • ALWAYS wear a helmet! No matter how short or close to home your child plans to travel.
  • Ride on the right side, with traffic.
  • Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals.
  • Stop and look both ways before entering the street. Stop at ALL intersections, marked and unmarked.
  • It is NEVER safe to ride at night even with reflective clothing and/or bike reflectors.

This article was prepared from the following sources: