Families are crowding the playgrounds and bike trails as our unusually hot summer has come to an end. While driving around my community, I love seeing families choosing active activities, enjoying each other’s company while enjoying the fall weather.
What I don’t like to see, however, are families not practicing common bike safety rules for kids. This includes families riding their bikes on busy streets without cycling helmets.
I know, I hear you… “We never rode bike helmets as kids, and we are just fine.”
I get it. But, we also laid in the back of our mom’s station wagon with sleeping bags and snacks on the way to grandma’s house. You have to admit, with all the knowledge we have about seat belt use, that wasn’t the safest way to travel. And now, most you of would never dream of traveling on the interstate without your children safely buckled up.
So, chew on this. According to the CDC, wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of brain injury by 88% and reduces the risk of injuries to the face by 65%. AND, 97% of cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles were NOT wearing a helmet.
Consider the helmet a “bike seatbelt.” A necessary part of travel. A mandatory requirement. A “no exceptions” policy. For your kids AND YOU!
Dr. Joanna Betancourt of Salud Pediatrics has this great list of bike helmet tips for kids and families.
Are you wearing a helmet? We’ve all heard the saying, “…do as I say, not as I do.” But the truth is, children learn best by observing you. Thus, whenever you ride a bike, set a good example and put on your cycling helmet. Not only will this reinforce the message, but you will be setting a good example.
Start Early. If your kids are small, have your kids wear a cycling helmet as soon as they start to ride a tricycle or when they are riding as a passenger on the back of an adult’s bike. If your children learn to wear helmets whenever they ride tricycles and bikes, it becomes a habit for a lifetime.
No helmet; no bike riding. Don’t let children ride their bikes unless they wear their helmets. Being consistent is a big part of the process. If you allow your children to ride occasionally without their helmets, they won’t believe that helmet use really is important.
Use professional athletes as examples. My husband likes to watch the X-Games. For those that don’t know, X-Games are a yearly competition where athletes perform extreme sports such as skateboarding, roller-blading, motorcycle jumping and various other high risk, death defying stunts. All of those athletes wear helmets at all times. Thus, using professional athletes such as those on the X-Games as an example, drives the message home of how important bike helmets for kids can be.
See this link for Dr. Betancourt’s post on bike helmet safety for kids.
Need something else? Watch these 70 seconds that very effectively reinforce bike helmet safety. I know it did for me!
Have a wonderful, safe fall. Enjoy nature’s beautiful colors while biking with your kids. And from underneath your helmet.
Photo: By CPSC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons