Keep kids safe on their bikes this summer with four simple tips

Summertime means kids on bikes. Before you let your little riders take a spin, make sure they’re ready to hit the bike path safely.

The following bike safety tips were shared with campers at a recent Life EMS Ambulance Camp 911 session, at Station 3 of the Walker Fire Department. Jennifer Hoekstra, a Coordinator for Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids, which is run out of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, gave kids the download on staying safe on their bikes. Here are her top four tips:

1. Wear a helmet – every time. Kids might think they’re dorky, but they’re absolutely essential for safety.

“If you had to choose between looking dorky with a helmet on or never being able to walk again, what would you choose,” Hoekstra asked campers.

Proper fit is very important. Hoekstra uses the 2-2-2 rule to help kids and parents remember how to check if their helmet is sitting where it should be.

  • Two fingers above the eyebrows: The helmet should sit just above the eyebrows, with space for two fingers to fit between the top of the eyebrow and bottom of the helmet. “If you can’t reach your helmet, it’s too far back,” she said.
  • Two letter Vs: The side helmet straps should fit snugly under the ears without a lot of space. When properly secured, it should look like two v shapes, one under each ear.
  • Two fingers under the chin: When the strap is buckled, you shouldn’t be able to fit more than two fingers under the chin strap.

Ultimately, the helmet should be secure enough that kids are able to dance vigorously without it moving around.

“Your brain is important every time,” Hoekstra told campers. “You want to protect that one brain and the best thing you can do to protect it is to wear a helmet.”

2. Dress appropriately from head to toe. Aside from the helmet, Hoekstra provided wardrobe advice for bike riding. Ideally, tops should be a bright color so it’s easier for drivers and other riders to see kids coming or up ahead. Avoid wide-leg pants or skirts that could get stuck in a bike chain and make sure to wear shoes that cover your toes. It’s summer, but that doesn’t make riding in bare feet or flip flops okay, Hoekstra said.

3.  Dress your bike. Bikes should be decked out with reflectors and lights for riding at dawn or dusk.  

4. Ride on the right side. For kids, the sidewalk or bike path is the safest place to be. When that’s not an option, ride on the right side of the road, going with traffic. Use proper hand signals when turning.

Younger riders should always ride with adults, Hoekstra said. Make sure you’re setting a good example for your kids by following the same safety rules when you ride as a family.

Happy trails!

Photo credit: John Tornow

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  1. Very interesting & good information to know. I have always wondered how to know if a helmet was the correct fit.

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