Bike riding is a great form of exercise and can be enjoyed by the entire family. It is an extremely popular sport, but can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. In fact, an average of 50 New York State residents are killed each year in bike crashes. Another 2,200 New York State residents are hospitalized, and 38% of these hospitalizations involve brain injury. The best way to protect yourself and your child is to wear a helmet and to know—and practice—the rules of the road.
Choosing a Helmet
The single best thing you can do to protect your child from a serious head injury while riding a bike, skateboard or in-line skates, is to purchase a properly-fitted helmet and insist upon your child wearing it. Following are tips for selecting the best helmet for your child:
- The helmet should meet requirements set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
- The helmet should be constructed with a thick, firm polystyrene or other shock-absorbing material, and lined with padding.
- It must have a strong strap and fastener to stay on in a crash.
- The helmet should sit low on the forehead, not tilted back or to either side.
- Your child should be able to buckle the helmet easily.
- If your child falls and hits his or her head, he or she will need a new helmet. The shock-absorbing material that has protected the head may not retain its protectiveness after a fall.
Safety Tips for Riding
Along with wearing helmet, you can keep your child safe by agreeing on safe places to ride his or her bike and teaching safety tips for bike-riding:
- Always ride one person to a bike.
- Always ride on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic.
- Follow all traffic signals and patterns.
- Ride single file.
- Make sure the bike is always in good working order: tires filled with air, operable brakes, and gears.
- Avoid riding after dark or in bad weather.
- Give cars and pedestrians the right-of-way.