Bike Safety Tips

May 21st, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Written by Julie Harris, Active Living Manager, Live Well Omaha

Dust Off Your Bikes!

May is National Bike Month, and although the grown-ups have been celebrating for a few weeks, the celebration isn’t truly complete until kids get out of school for the summer.

For many of us, memories of childhood summers are tied directly to our bicycles:  Riding to the pool, the park, the library, the ball diamond, a friends’ house, or just exploring the neighborhood.  Now is a great time to get the bikes out of the garage and give them a once over so that everyone can be safe as they continue the tradition of summer riding.

Start out with the ABC Quick Check

An easy way to assess the condition of your bike is to do the ABC Quick Check.  It works well at the beginning of the season, but you should also get into the habit of performing this fast pre-ride ritual before hopping on your bike.

A –  Check the AIR in your tires.  Chances are they’ve deflated over the winter.  Inflate them to the recommended pressure, which can be found printed on the sidewall of the tires.

B- Check the BRAKES.  Squeeze the levers firmly, making sure they don’t come all the way to your thumb.  Inspect the cables attached to the levers to make sure nothing is out of place.  Inspect the brake pads to make sure nothing is rubbing and that the pads are not worn out.

C- Check the CHAIN and CRANKS.  Jiggle the pedals to make sure the crank arms (pedals attach to the crank arms) are tight.  Check the chain, too.  A saggy, rusty chain can cause problems for your drive train, so make sure the chain is in good condition.  Your local bike shop can recommend some inexpensive cleanser and lube to get everything back to good working order after a long winter.

QUICK – If your bike has QUICK release levers on the wheels or seatpost, make sure they are tight.  The last thing you want as you ride head down a hill is to have your wheel come off!

CHECK – Finally, give your bike a general CHECK over.  Give it a spin in the driveway before you head down the street to make sure everything is in working order.

If you find any problems with your bike, take it to your favorite local bike shop for a tune up.  There are several shops in the Omaha area, all of which have amazing mechanics that love bikes and the people who ride them.  Sometimes a new inner tube or quick brake adjustment is all that is needed to get you back in the saddle.

Sidewalk Safety

Determining whether your child should ride on the sidewalk or on the street is something parents and guardians should consider carefully.  However, just because a child is riding on the sidewalk doesn’t mean that they won’t encounter cars.  Crossing intersections is an obvious skill that requires parental supervision and coaching.  Watching for cars backing out of driveways is an oft-forgotten hazard to consider.  Talk to your kids about watching driveways, because kids on bikes are not necessarily in the line of sight of a person backing up a vehicle – especially if that person is on ‘auto-pilot’ and not paying attention at all.

Helmets

It isn’t a law that kids wear helmets, but it should be a strict family policy.  Regardless of how far the ride will be, it should never begin without donning a properly fitting helmet.  If the helmet can easily flop around on your child’s head, it is too big and will be of little help in a crash.  A properly fitting helmet should be snug on the head, with two fingers of space between the eyebrows and the brim.  The straps should be snug under the chin, coming to a point just under the ear lobes.  Your friends at the local bike shop can help with helmet selection and fit as well.

Riding a bicycle is one of the great joys in life.  Plan some two-wheeled adventures for the family this summer – even if they are just around the block.  Start small and branch out as your kids gain fitness and confidence.  The memories will last a lifetime!

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Bike Safety Tips”

  1. 1 Kay Grant said at 9:40 am on May 23rd, 2014:

    Fantastic blog and great advice! Thanks so much for this important information, Julie!


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