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Preschoolers Riding Bicycles: Tips for Parents

by Tania Cowling | August 23rd, 2016 | Preschool, Safety
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3-4-year-old-on-small-bike-and-wearing-helmetHas your preschooler transitioned from training wheels to traditional bicycle riding? While bike riding is a healthy activity, it does hold risks. Unfortunately, too many children end up in the emergency room due to bicycle related injuries. Safety is a priority and parents should heed this advice by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission when their youngsters take to the road (or with preschoolers the sidewalks) with their bicycles.

The Almighty Helmet

Back when my children were growing up helmets were not mandatory and most children rode without wearing one. We know today that head injuries can mean brain injury and helmets can save lives. So advice from the CPS is to make sure the child’s helmet has the correct fit and adjustments.

  • It must sit level on the child’s head, not tilted forwards or backwards. And don’t let your little rider wear a hat underneath the helmet.
  • The gear must have strong, wide straps that fasten snugly under the chin. This should always be fastened when riding.
  • It must be tight enough so no pulling or twisting can move the helmet around the head.
  • Make sure to replace this helmet every five years. If you child’s head grows, a new helmet is needed. Also, replace it immediately after a hard fall, as the gear could be damaged.

Safety Tips for Little Riders

  • Always wear your protective helmet when riding the bicycle.
  • Adult supervision is needed at all times.
  • Parents need to check the bicycle often for hazards such as loose, broken or cracked parts.
  • Children must ride the bike on smooth paved surfaces free from traffic. Avoid riding on streets or surfaces that contains water, sand, gravel, or dirt.
  • Make sure the bicycle is appropriate for your child’s age, not one that is too large for him/her to grow into. You child should be able to touch the ground when seated on the bike.
  • Preschool children should be using a one-gear bicycle with pedal brakes, not one with hand gears at this age.
  • Wear sturdy shoes, not flip-flops. Kids need a good grip on the bike pedals.
  • Don’t let young children wear flowing clothing or belt streamers that could get caught inside the spokes of the bike.

Preschool children should never ride their bicycle in the street. Find safe locations — your driveway (it’s best to put an orange plastic cone at the end so cars will not enter), a park setting, the sidewalks (it’s okay for young children to ride there, but not for adults) and make sure to yield to people walking on these walkways. Make sure you and older siblings are good role models. The way you obey bicycle rules is what you are teaching your preschool-age child. Riding a bicycle is a milestone in preschool development. Make it safe and fun!

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