Beautiful fall weather has finally come to Missouri, and our Columbia personal injury lawyers know that many Missourians are getting out and about to enjoy the comfortable temperatures. At this time of year, we want to encourage local parents to make bicycle safety a top priority. Recently, PedNet and City Hall's "Get About Columbia" program partnered to host a free awareness event, the Columbia Kids' Bike Workshop. The workshop championed one key goal: to "teach children how to ride safely on local streets and traffic." At the event, participants received instruction on safe bicycling, maintenance, and other important skills.
Bicycle safety essentials: Key tips for the parents of young bicyclists
• Require your child to wear properly fitting safety helmet when riding a bicycle. More children between ages five and 14 receive emergency room medical treatment for bicycle-related injuries than for injuries connected to any other sport. Since head injuries are an extremely common consequence of bicycle accidents, it's essential that young cyclists wear a helmet every single time they ride. Research indicates that safety helmets can reduce the risk of severe head injuries by as much as 88%. However, despite these findings, only about 45% of cyclists age 14 and under regularly wear a helmet. (To learn more about our law firm's bicycle helmet safety program, please click here.)
• Be a good role model. Children learn quickly from the examples set by their family members and caregivers. When you're bicycling with your child, model the safety practices you want to see your young cyclist adopt: wear a helmet, ride with traffic on the right side of the roadway, use hand signals to alert drivers to your intentions, and obey all traffic signs as signals. Doing so will also give you an opportunity to discuss the rules and responsibilities of the road with your children.
• Find ways to help your children see and be seen. It's challenging for young children to gauge a vehicle's speed and proximity. Experts recommend that you limit your child's riding area to sidewalks, parks and designated bicycle paths at least until they reach age 10: it takes practice to develop an awareness of the motorists traveling around you, and to anticipate their actions. And it's wise to equip your children (and their bicycle) with lights and reflectors to make them easier to see at dawn, dusk and after dark.