Children’s Bicycle Safety Tips for Spring

Children’s Bicycle Safety Tips for SpringSpring has sprung and the weather is getting warmer. Soon, children of all ages will be out riding their bicycles for fun and exercise. While this physical activity should be encouraged, it’s also important to remember that accidents can happen and it is always vital to remain vigilant of the risks.

Kids and bike accidents – the statistics

In 2020, there were 136,765 non-fatal bicycle accidents among children aged 0 to 19 years. And, children between the ages of five and 14 are at the highest risk for injuries. Nationwide Children’s further reports:

  • Over 220,000 children (under 19 years old) are treated in emergency rooms every year for bicycle-related injuries – this is about 25 kids every hour.
  • Head injuries cause the most deaths.
  • “Among bicycle riders killed in a crash where helmet use was known, more than 3/4 of bicyclists were not wearing a helmet.”
  • Most injuries occur on the street.
  • Older children are injured less, but their injuries tend to be more serious. In fact, “These teens are 4 times more likely to die from a bicycle-related injury than younger children.”

What types of injuries do children suffer in bicycle accidents?

The most common types of injuries children suffer in bicycle accidents include:

  • Head injuries: Head injuries can be very serious, and they can range from concussions to life-threatening brain injuries. Wearing a properly fitted helmet is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of head injury in a bicycle accident.
  • Fractures: Fractures, or broken bones, can occur in any bone, but in bike accidents, they are most common in the arms, legs, and collarbone.
  • Dental injuries: Dental injuries are also common in bicycle accidents, and they can range from chipped teeth to knocked-out teeth.
  • Scrapes and cuts: These are the most common types of injuries, and they usually occur on the arms, legs, and face.
  • Bruises and contusions: Bruises are also common, and they can occur anywhere on the body.

If your child is injured in a bicycle accident, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Even if the injuries seem minor, it is important to have a doctor check your child out to rule out any more serious injuries.

Regarding helmet use, Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s, says:

Wearing a helmet while riding a bike is the best way to decrease the risk of serious injuries. We want parents and kids to keep riding their bikes, but it’s important for all riders to wear a helmet. Take your children shopping for bike helmets so you can find ones that fit them and they can choose a style they like. They will be more likely to want to wear it.

Although there is no universal bike helmet law in Illinois, children under the age of 18 are required to wear bike helmets. The Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road report states that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injuries by up to 85 percent.

How can I keep my child safe on their bike?

There are a variety of ways to ensure your child (and their bike) are safe. Make sure your child’s bike has the following safety equipment:

  • Clear front reflector
  • Red rear reflector
  • Horn or bell that can be heard up to 100 feet
  • Properly adjusted brakes
  • Wheel-mounted side reflectors
  • Pedal reflectors
  • Properly adjusted and smooth gears
  • Handlebars and accessories securely attached
  • Front light visible for at least 500 feet and red tail light (for night riders)

To make sure your child’s bicycle helmet fits properly, do the “Eyes-Ears-Mouth” test. This easy test entails:

  • Eyes. Have your child put the helmet on and look up. Your child should see the front rim of the helmet.
  • Ears. The helmet straps should come to a “V” right below each ear.
  • Mouth. Have your child open their mouth wide. They should feel the helmet pushing down on their head.

If the helmet doesn’t pass the test, you need to adjust the straps or add bigger pads to get the right fit.

You should also conduct an “ABC” test of the bike itself:

  • Air. Ensure the tires are filled and not worn out and the air pressure is right.
  • Brakes. Check that the brakes are working properly by spinning each wheel and applying the brakes.
  • Chains and cranks. Check that the chain isn’t rusted or full of “gunk,” and pull on the cranks to ensure they’re not loose.

Rules of the road in Illinois

Cyclists in Illinois have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle driver. Make sure your child understands the rules of the road, some of which include:

  • Ride as close as is safe to the right side of the road. Ride in the same direction as other traffic. Riding facing oncoming traffic is dangerous and illegal.
  • Only one person per bike, unless it’s specifically designed to carry additional passengers.
  • Watch out for the “door zone.” This zone encompasses four feet along the left side of a lane of parked cars. A person opening a car door can hit and seriously injure a bicyclist, so ride at least four feet away from parked cars on the street.
  • Before turning, look over your shoulder for any traffic. Remember that you must stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and in intersections, just like traditional vehicles do.
  • Bicyclists are “prohibited on controlled-access highways, expressways, and certain other marked roadways.”

Nationwide Children’s states the following important information:

Since bicycling is one of the primary modes of transportation for children, it is imperative to make roads safer for children and decrease bicycle-motor vehicle collisions. Proven prevention efforts include “Share the Road” campaigns, increasing bicyclist visibility with bright reflective materials, creating cycling lanes on the road and providing bicycling education courses.

Related reading: E-Bikes Are Popular, But They’re Also Dangerous

Did your child suffer harm in a bicycle accident due to a negligent driver? At Glisson Law, we can help. Our Alton bicycle accident lawyers will investigate your case, deal with insurance companies on your behalf, and fight for the compensation your child is owed for their injuries and losses. When you’re ready to schedule a free case evaluation, call our office or submit our contact form. Our attorneys proudly serve Belleville, Edwardsville, Springfield, Madison, St. Clair Counties, and all of Southwestern Illinois and Missouri.