More than ever, people feel the need to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Bicycling has become a popular way for individuals and families to do that together. Unfortunately, more bicycles mean more bicycle accidents resulting in injury or even death. Many accidents can be prevented, however. Here are a few tips for keeping yourself and your kids as safe as possible when you head out on your bikes:
Having the right gear
You don’t have to deck yourself out like a Tour de France rider every time you leave the house, but you want to cover the basics. Make sure everyone’s bike is in working order. Check tires and brakes. In addition, wear bright clothing and reflective gear. Bring a cell phone in case of emergencies, but do not try to use it while riding.
A helmet is a must. Each person’s helmet should fit properly, not wobble on their head when strapped on and sit evenly on the head. It should cover the forehead and not be pushed back.
Know the rules of the road
Bicycles are vehicles, with the same rights and responsibilities as cars on the road. Follow the rules and teach your children to follow them, too. Obey street signs and ride on the correct side of the road no more than two abreast.
Always be on the defensive
Just because you have the right to be on the road does not mean cars will respect that right, or even notice you. Assume the cars do not see you and make your turn signals large and obvious. Keep your movements predictable by the drivers around you. Keep in a straight line as much as possible and watch for doors opening from parked cars.
What about sidewalks and bike paths?
Bike paths are a great option for a family ride if your neighborhood has them. The Tacoma area has some nice bike paths. If you don’t live near one of them, however, and just want a neighborhood ride, you might feel inclined to have the kids ride on the sidewalk. Tacoma generally allows this, unless you are in a business district. Remind your kids to yield to pedestrians and to be very careful when crossing the street. Cars are not looking for a fast-moving bicycle to come off the sidewalk.
Riding at night or in rainy weather
Chances are that you won’t take the kids out on a ride at night. You might go out just before twilight, however, so make sure everyone’s bike has a light in front and back. Also wear reflective clothing. As far as rain is concerned, that depends on how adventurous you are. Rain is nothing new in this area, so many people continue with their plans regardless of the weather. Or you might get caught unaware. Just remember that your brakes need a lot more time to stop when wet. Also, use lights and reflective gear.
Bicycling is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise as a family. You are passing on a wonderful legacy to your children by teaching them how to enjoy their ride while following the rules of the road and these safety tips.