The summer's here, and children want to get out of the house and onto their bicycles. But their enthusiasm to be out and about should be tempered with a realization of the dangers and the safety precautions that both children and parents need to be aware of.
In a recent article the Virginian-Pilot provided some key tips for parents as their children learn to ride a bicycle. Crucially, children of all ages should wear a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. A uniform standard was brought in in 1999 by the commission. It noted about 900 people, including more than 200 children, are killed each year in bicycle-related incidents, and about 60 percent of the deaths involve a head injury.
In 2010, we reported on a cyclist who died of serious head injuries in Richmond, VA, after running a red light. He was not wearing a helmet. There's also a way to wear a helmet. The Virginian-Pilot article says it should be worn "squarely on top of the head," as opposed to tipped back because a tipped-back helmet will not provide adequate protection for the forehead.
See this video about cycling helmet safety.
Young children should also be supervised and it's a risky decision to let children ride their bicycles at night. If bicycles are to be worn at night they should have a white headlight at the front and a red reflector at the back. Cyclists should have tail lights if they are traveling at speeds over 35 mph.
It's also important that children receive adequate training on how to ride their bicycles and the bicycles are kept in good working order.
There are also some basic rules to be observed which we may take for granted. Cyclists should ride on the right hand side, in the same direction as the traffic. Inexperienced cyclists should stop if they feel they are getting in a difficult situation and all road signs should be obeyed.
Sadly even experienced cyclists make mistakes, sometimes with tragic consequences. In 2009, we reported on how a champion of cycling was killed when he collided with a vehicle in Apex, North Carolina (NC). Bruce W. Rosar, made a left turn and crossed into the direct path of a vehicle, with fatal consequences.