DRIVE SMART COLORADO has participated in many programs aimed at reducing injuries and fatalities of bicyclists. While overall bike safety tips are the same for all bicycle riders, there are some important differences between children and adults while riding.
Helpful information from the Department of Transportation:
Children’s Bike Safety Information Page
Bicycle riding is a healthy and fun way for children to explore their community and the world around them. It offers the first glimpse of mobility and independence from mom and dad. But when a bicycle is operated on the roadway it is not a toy; it’s a vehicle! A parent or guardian plays an important role in teaching children to be safe when operating their bicycle near traffic or in the roadway. Adults can help children learn about the proper behavior for a cyclist. Children can also can learn fundamental skills by participating in a local bicycle rodeo.
A Child’s Limitations
Children are the most vulnerable users of the highway system. Their safety when operating a bicycle can often depend on making the right decision. When they don’t, this may lead to trouble. Children often view the world around them far differently then an adult. Their view is often, based on their own physical limitations, playful imagination and limited experience dealing with traffic and their understanding of traffic safety.
A child’s limitations include:
A narrower field of vision than adults — about one-third less.
Cannot easily judge a car’s speed and distance.
Assume that if they can see a car, its driver must be able to see them. However, children on a bicycle are easily hidden from view by parked cars and other objects.
Cannot readily tell the direction a sound is coming from.
May be impatient and impulsive.
Concentrate on only one thing at a time. This is likely not to be traffic.
Have a limited sense of danger.
Often mix fantasy with reality.
Imitate the sometimes poor behavior of other, especially older, children and adults.
Bicycle Safety Tips for Adults
Bicycle safety tips intended to minimize crashes and injuries while bicycling include:
Obey traffic signs and signals – Bicycles must follow the rules of the road like other vehicles.
Always wear your helmet – The helmet should conform to the standard established by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) at all times.
Never ride against traffic – Motorist’s aren’t looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the road. State law and common sense require that bicyclists drive like other operating vehicles.
Don’t pass on the right – Motorist’s may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
Keep both hands ready to brake – You may not stop in time if you brake one-handed. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain, since brakes are less efficient when wet.
Scan the road behind you – Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving. Some riders use rear-view mirrors.
Never operate a bicycle wearing headphones, talking on a cell phone or text messaging – Wearing headphones, talking on a cell phone or text messaging when operating a bicycle can be a deadly distraction. Be alert to your surroundings; stop your bicycle when sending or receiving a cell phone call or text message.
Follow lane markings – Don’t turn left from the right lane. Don’t go straight in a lane marked “right-turn only.”
Do not consume alcohol or drugs– Consuming alcohol and/or drugs while operating a bicycle do not mix. Alcohol can dramatically diminish a bicyclist’s cognitive and physical abilities and can result in a crash.
Dress appropriately – In rain, wear a poncho or a waterproof suit. Dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes. Wear brightly colored clothing.
Use hand signals – Hand signals tell motorists and pedestrians what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, of courtesy and of self-protection.
Ride in the middle of the lane in slower traffic – Get in the middle of the lane at busy intersections and whenever you are moving at the same speed as traffic.
Choose the best way to turn left – There are two choices: (1) Like an automobile: Signal to move into the left turn lane and then turn left. (2) Like a pedestrian: Ride straight to the far side crosswalk. Walk your bike across.
Make eye contact with drivers – Assume that other drivers don’t see you until you are sure that they do. Eye contact is important with any driver who might pose a threat to your safety.
Look out for road hazards – Watch out for parallel-slat sewer grates, gravel, ice, sand or debris. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
Use lights at night – To be seen it is important to use a white headlight (visible from at least 500 feet ahead) and a red rear reflector or taillight (visible up to 300 feet from behind).
Keep your bike in good repair – Adjust your bike to fit you and keep it working properly. Check brakes and tires regularly. Routine maintenance is simple and you can learn to do it yourself.