Growing up, I spent much of my time riding my bike. As I lived in a very small village, I enjoyed cycling to see friends as well as cycling around my Granddad’s farm with my cousins. I used to love going for a bike ride down the grassy old railway tracks and generally cycling down quiet roads, enjoying the views of the countryside. Recently, all of these memories have come flooding back as we are trying to encourage my son to ride his bike more. Presently, we live in a town and although it is a relatively small town, it is much busier than the little village where, guided by my parents, I learnt how to ride my bicycle safely. My boyfriend often goes on long bike rides at the weekends and after work and is used to cycling in this area. However, I have not been on a bicycle (apart from at the gym, which doesn’t count in this instance!) since I was a teenager. I think that it is important to teach children from a young age about the rules of the road to keep them as safe as possible.
Being Aware of Cycle Safety
When reading statistics from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, it says that, “Every year in the UK, approximately 19,000 cyclists are killed or injured in reported road accidents.” In 2012, the Think! Campaign reported an increase in injuries to cyclists, where 92% of these accidents involved another vehicle. I am quite mindful of these statistics as I know the road can be a dangerous place for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. As a parent, I think that it is very important to set a good example to my children about cycle safety. As it is a long time since the last time I rode on a bicycle, I have found that some things have slipped my mind. My boyfriend still uses his bike regularly so he often gives my son tips on keeping safe.
Cycle Safety Tips from Eversure
Eversure have lots of safety tips for cyclists of all ages and these have helped me to discuss road safety with my son. Here they are:
If you’re having to cycle on the road (but still good to teach kids at a young age):
· You should never ride more than two abreast – the safest way to ride as a family is with your children IN FRONT, and you behind. Let your children cycle about a meter out from the curb, and with you following behind, slightly further out. This way, you can give instructions, and create space between traffic and your children. If mum and dad are both out, have one parent head up the front too.
· Always cycle with traffic, on the correct side of the road, never cycle into traffic, even if the roads are quiet.
· Don’t cycle on the pavement (unless marked for cyclists)
· Always have front (white) and rear (red) lights fitted to your bike, and check that these work before setting off.
· Consider fitting a bike horn or bell to alert road users to your presence – you can get specialist electronic horns that can cut through most background noise (most kids prefer a bell though!)
· You should wear light coloured clothes / hi vis / reflective clothing always when cycling in low visibility, not just at night
· Don’t overload a rucksack or backpack, you could reduce your ability to maintain your balance.
· Ride predictably, decisively, in a straight line, and well clear of the kerb
· Always look and signal clearly – you can get electronic signals reasonably cheaply
· Don’t use a mobile phone or earphones
· Wear a properly fitting crash helmet.
· Make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you
· Riding on the road is scary, consider getting your kids confident and trained young with http://bikeability.dft.gov.uk/ or similar scheme.
If you’re playing out in the street / close / garages / park / woods / to and from school:
· Be aware of traffic that might be pulling into, or out of driveways
· Teach your child how to cross the road safely (or forbid them from crossing the road without you)
· Keep children seen with light coloured clothing, and hi vis in low light conditions
· Make sure your children have a set time to report in, if you can’t stand and watch them play (great for learning to tell the time too!)
· Set your child boundaries or milestones (they can go as far as that lamp post, that tree etc or no further than where the line of sight disappears) so they know not to run off ahead too far
My son’s school do a course for Bikeability in Year 5 so I will certainly encourage him to take part in this when he is old enough. I remember doing the course (I think it was called Bikewise back then) when I was in Year 5 and it helped me a lot.
Eversure kindly also sent my friend a high visibility vest and a cycle light that he promptly put on the back of his helmet. He said that he felt much safer, especially with the extra light. He often cycles when it is dark plus on the first night he wore this light, it was also foggy so he was extremely pleased with it. It is very important to be seen when you are a cyclist, both day and night.
My son is very keen to wear his high visibility vest and makes sure he wears his helmet every time he goes out on his bike. He has also started putting it on when he rides his scooter to school too! I think that setting a good example by showing my children that adults also wear safety gear when using the roads, makes a big difference as to whether they do it themselves. I hope that my son grows up to have as many happy memories of cycling as I have.
Disclosure: I was sent a high visibility vest and a red light from Eversure to write this cycle safety post. All opinions are honest and my own.