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May 28

Biking Safety for Families

Summer is just around the corner. With warmer temperatures, families are headed outside to play and work. Guest writer Ryan Novas shares some quick and easy tips for biking safely with children.

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With gas prices only getting higher, more and more families are turning to bikes for transportation.  While bikes are a great fun, eco-friendly, and healthy way of getting around, it is important to take steps to make cycling as safe as possible.   With these tips, you and your children may be able to cycle more safely, so you may all be able to get more exercise, while helping to save the environment and money.

 

The Door Zone

 

When many people bike on the road for the first time, their natural instinct can be to hug the side of the lane as tightly as possible.  While you should allow cars to pass when they can do so safely, something to be wary of is the “door zone.”  This is the area of the road that a parked vehicle’s door can reach out to when opened — and unfortunately parts of many bike lanes are right inside of the door zone.  To avoid colliding with someone who has just opened their door, you may want to make sure that your family gives parked cars enough distance so that you can safely avoid a door that opens unexpectedly.

 

Lights & Reflectors

 

If your family is bike riding at night, lights and reflectors are important for safety, and in some areas are legal requirements for night time riding.   However, even with lights on the front and back of your bike, traffic that is approaching you from a 90 degree angle may not easily be able to see your lights.  For added safety, placing reflectors and lights on the wheels may also help.  There are a variety of products that can be mounted within the spokes of the wheels or on the side of the bike that may be able to make you more visible to traffic, even if it is approaching you from a perpendicular angle.

 

Proper Clothing

 

Bunny slippers and sandals may be great for hanging around the house; however, they have no place on a bike ride.  Before you or your children get on your bikes, you may want to ensure that everyone is wearing close-toed shoes, with the laces securely tied, and that if anyone is wearing baggy pants, the cloth in the area just above their ankle is wrapped tightly or tucked into their socks.  By checking shoelaces and loose pant legs, you may be able to help reduce the chances of things getting caught in the gears, which could lead to an accident.

 

Adults Take the Lead

 

When riding on the street, it may be best for you to take the lead with your children following behind you in a single file line.  This way you can navigate the streets and let your children know when you think is safe to cross an intersection, show them how far into the lane they should be riding to avoid the door zone, etc….  If you are riding with your children as well as your partner or another adult, consider riding in a single file line with adults at both ends and your children in the middle.  This way, one of you can lead the children while the person in the rear keeps an eye on them and makes sure everything is going safely.

 

Flags for Smaller Kids

 

Because people in automobiles are often seated much higher than cyclists, you can sometimes be hard to see while biking on the road.  Fortunately there are a variety of products that can be attached to bike frames so that a conspicuous flag will be extended over your head.  Adding these flags may be a great way to increase a bike’s visibility, especially for children or for smaller adults.  If you are pulling a trailer with your children in it behind your bike, as an added safety precaution you may want to make sure that it has reflectors and a flag on it as well, since the low lying trailer may be especially difficult to see from up high in a vehicle.

 

Biking can make a great way for families to get around.  It is a healthy activity that does not require gas or paying for parking, and you get to exercise while you do it.  By following the tips listed above, you may be able to make biking safer and more enjoyable for your family.

photo credit: cafemama via photopin cc

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Ryan enjoys cycling for pleasure and for transportation, as well as helping families keep safe and healthy.

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