Wear a Helmet
Virginia Beach city code
requires that children under the age of 14 wear a bicycle helmet at all times while riding. Children in this age group are five times more likely to sustain injuries in a bicycle-related accident than any other age group and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that bike helmets reduce head and brain injuries by up to 88 percent.
Bicycle helmets need to fit properly
and be worn on every bike ride. It is best to select a helmet that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission Standards. When purchasing a helmet, look for the commission's label. Helmets should cover your forehead, have adjustable straps, and be the right size for your head. They should fit snugly, without moving from side to side and you should always buckle the chin strap.
Wear brightly colored clothing to make it as easy as possible for motorists to see you. Loose fitting clothing is also a danger as it can get caught in the bike chain and lead to accidents or injury. Tennis shoes offer the most protection for the feet and provide a good grip on the pedals.
Most bike accidents result from running into stationary objects, like signs or benches. Keep your eyes on the road at all times in order to ensure you don’t collide with something or fall off your bike. Watch out for large puddles, storm grates, curbs, changes in road height, wet leaves and gravel. Also, be on the lookout for other bikers, strollers, kids and animals. A bell or horn allows you to warn pedestrians that are approaching. You may also verbally warn pedestrians and other cyclists when preparing to pass them.
Ride an Appropriately Sized Bicycle
Appropriate bike size is crucial to a child’s safety. If a bike is too big, it becomes unsafe because the rider is unable to safely and quickly get off the bike. Bikes that are too big are also difficult to control. If the rider is always stretching to reach the handlebars and pedals, it increases the difficulty in maintaining a straight path, and veering becomes a problem. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recommends straddling the top of the bike with both feet on the ground. There should be a space of 1-2 inches between your body and the top bar of a road bike, and 3 to 4 inches between your body and the top of a mountain bike. The seat should be level and adjusted d so that there is a slight bend at the knee when your legs are extended. The handlebar should be level with the seat.
Don't Neglect Bike Maintenance
Before each ride, check your bike to make sure it is in good working order. Make sure the breaks are working properly, heck for loose parts and confirm that your lights and reflectors are attached and clean. Consider taking it to a bike shop for a tune-up about every six months.
Do Not Listen to Music
Listening to music decreases the ability to be aware of what is going on while biking. Pay attention to road conditions, road debris, parked vehicles and other cyclists.
Avoid Riding at Night/Twilight
Night riding is dangerous because drivers’ vision is diminished. If you must ride at night or twilight, riding, make sure the bike has working reflectors and rear and front lights. Also try to wear reflective tape on clothing, around ankles and on helmets.
Obey Traffic Laws
Bicyclists are expected to obey all traffic laws because they are considered vehicles in most areas. Ride with both hands on the handlebars, stop and check for traffic when pulling onto a street, approaching a curb, or reaching a stop sign. Cross only at intersections. Ride your bike in the same direction as traffic, use bike lanes when possible, obey traffic control devices (red lights, stop signs) and try to ride single file when accompanied by other riders.
The NHTSA recommends that kids less than 10 years old ride on the sidewalk when allowed by law. Bicycle paths have separate directions and rules, but when these paths intersect with auto roads, rules of the road apply.
Carry all items in a backpack and never fill the pack with a weight that influences the rider's balance. Even when bicycles incorporate baskets and side saddle bags, avoid filling these storage containers. The extra weight adds extra braking time and may mean brake failure in an emergency. The weight of these items may shift in an emergency stop or diversion movement, increasing the chance of a crash.
No Handlebar Riding
If an individual is riding on the handlebars, the biker's ability to steer, to avoid road hazards and to see are impaired. Handlebar riding is unsafe for both the child pedaling and the child riding on the handlebars.
Know Where It Is Safe to Ride
Generally speaking, riding on the street with the flow of traffic is safer than riding on the sidewalk for children older than 10. Children younger than 10 years old do not have the same level of maturity or the ability to make safe decisions on the street, so the NHTSA recommends that children under 10 ride on the sidewalk.
Use Hand Signals
Bicycle rides will often require the use of public streets and intersections. Using the appropriate hand signals
can help you safely navigate congested areas. Ensure that nearby motorists have clearly seen your signal before attempting to turn.