Parents: ride your bike with your kids

The Bike Column
By: By Tom Frady For The News Messenger
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In many of my past columns, I have emphasized how drivers and bike riders can safely share the road.  The emphasis has been on adult riders, usually those of us who take to the streets and country roads of this part of the county.

But if we are going to make long-term improvements in safety and the promotion of cycling, we need to be sure that our children are not only getting on their bikes but learning to ride safely. 

One of the reasons to ride a bike is that it is just fun.   Even if you are not a cyclist as an adult, you no doubt have fond memories of your first bike (mine was a blue, Royal Sabre 3-speed) or adventures experienced involving your bike.

Bike riding is also good for the environment and there is no question we all, including kids, need some good exercise.

However, more children ages 5 to 14 are seen in the ER for injuries related to cycling than from any other sport.  We need to teach our children to ride safely, actively supervising them and setting a good example until we are comfortable with them riding on their own. 

It does little good to ride with your kids if you are not wearing a helmet, following the law and riding safely.

Helmets are the single most effective safety device to reduce head injuries.  Be sure your child always wears one and wears it properly. 

A helmet strapped to the handlebars or sitting loosely on the head does no good.  A helmet is not a hat.  It comes with instructions.

Tell your kids to use hand signals, ride with traffic, obey traffic signs and stay to the right. 

Teach them to make eye contact with drivers before crossing a street. 

Thanks to new housing developments in recent years, Lincoln has many new, safe and beautiful bike paths.  Newer roads have well-marked bike lanes.  Ride with your children and help them find some.   Load up the bikes in the family SUV and explore the Miner’s Ravine or American River bike trail. 

Encourage your child to ride her bike to school, after you take a Saturday ride with her to find the safest route.

Next to a child’s first car, there is nothing that gives a child more freedom than a bike, whether he’s 5, riding two doors down the sidewalk to his friend’s house or 15, riding across town to a girl’s house who he insists is only a “friend.”

Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.