Spring into Safety on Your Bicycle

Next week is Bike to School Day! Biking and warm weather reminds us that summer is almost here. Summer brings many opportunities for us to get outside and play outdoors. Riding bikes around the neighborhood, chasing down the ice-cream truck, playing on the playground. These are all activities we love to do, and it is even more important that they are done so safely.

It is a joyful time for children, but what steps can we take to keep it that way? By being safe!

As parents it is important to equip your children with the knowledge to practice safer habits. One large cause for injuries are bicycle accidents. To put into perspective how prevalent they are, nearly 500,000 people go to the hospital every year for injuries related to a bicycle crash. Do not let these numbers scare you, but rather encourage you to practice safe habits, and with a few tips you can be much safer!

Let’s start with the biggest tips for bicycle safety:

  • Helmets: It is found that 75% of bicycle-related fatalities amongst children could have been avoided, if there were use of a helmet. Not only is it important to wear one, but it is also important that the helmet is being worn correctly.
  • Be Visible: It is no surprise that cars are much larger than bikes, and therefore easier to see. Bicyclists on the other hand, may be much harder to spot. To try and combat this issue, have children avoid riding at nighttime, and if they do, have them wear bright or reflective clothing to increase visibility. Front white and rear red lights are required on bicycles by law and are an important additions to see and be seen.
  • Signaling: In cars we use turn signals, we have break lights, and other features to let other cars know our next move. When biking it is just as important to have these features, so take the time to learn hand signaling. Creating an understanding between drivers and bicyclists can lower the number of accidents. Learning these hand signals with your family can be a fun activity, give it a go!

Check out these simple bicyclist signals!

Enjoying summer and creating new memories are important parts of childhood and practicing safe habits can only make it better. Taking the time to discuss these simple habits with your children can decrease risk of injury and increase their ability to make fun and safe memories.

A Parent’s Guide to Child Safety

Usually summer is full of camp, sleepovers and maybe even a vacation. This year it looks quite different. As we continue to try to navigate all of our priorities at once some things may slip through the cracks. Active supervision might be one of these as we have seen a nationwide increase in accidental injuries to children.

Being in the hospital is never where we want to be but it is more important than ever to try to stay safe and healthy to allow our healthcare staff to focus on our truly sick patients. (This does not mean to avoid the hospital or wait longer than normal if you have an emergency! It is absolutely worth going and safe to do so when needed!)

Safe Kids Worldwide recently put out a colorful and easy to follow booklet with proven advice and top tips to help reduce your family’s risk of injuries and to keep kids safe at home, at play and on the road. We know you are busy but taking a few minutes a day to make your home safer over the next few weeks will give you piece of mind and can prevent a future accident from happening. Download the booklet below and take action today!

Basic Bicycle Safety Tips

Family bicycle rides are a great way to keep a physical distance from others while still enjoying the outdoors and getting some exercise! As your family starts bringing their bikes out, here are basic maintenance and safety tips to consider.

Basic bicycle maintenance is a great way to teach your kids about their bikes plus how to take proper care of it. Keeping up with these routine steps will also make it safer and easier to ride.

Before each ride, don’t forget your ABC’s:

  • Air: Check to ensure the tires are properly inflated. The correct pressure is written on the side of the tire.
  • Brakes: Give both brakes a good squeeze to make sure they work properly.
  • Chain: Look at the chain and gears to make sure everything is clean and the chain is lubricated.

Next, EVERYONE needs to put on their helmet. Children start watching us at a very young age – we need to be good role models! Check to make sure your child’s helmet still fits from last year. Helmets should be replaced every 3-5 years. See the steps below to make sure everyone’s helmet fits correctly.

Finally, time to ride! Follow these tips for a fun and safe ride.

  • Act as if you are a vehicle. This includes riding on the same side and going in the same direction as other vehicles. Use a bike lane when possible. Ride single file and watch out for potholes and open car doors.
  • Wear bright colors and use lights and reflectors at night.
  • Use hand signals to be predictable!  

Safe Routes to School Encourages Biking for Brain Health

Spring has sprung! That means more outdoor activities and kids walking and biking to school! The Through the 5 E’s (evaluation, encouragement, education, enforcement, and engineering), Safe Routes to School programs throughout the nation strive to encourage walking and biking to school. Not only does this reduce traffic in busy zones, it is also a healthy habit!

Thompson School District’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program works with local agencies, organizations, cities, and developers to try to make walking and biking to school a safe, fun and healthy activity for students in elementary and middle school. Activity before and after school does not only improve physical health, it also gives a boost to a student’s brain power. As little as 7 minutes of physical activity before a test has proven to boost test scores by up to 17%! Regular physical activity also helps with a child’s memory and focus.

Because of this, TSD’s Safe Routes to School program works with Safe Kids Larimer County to make sure students are aware of the importance of protecting their most valuable asset – the brain! The partnership with Safe Kids’ Strap and Snap program to teach 3rd graders helmet safety goes hand in hand with the Safe Routes goals. A main focus of SRTS bike safety training is teaching kids to always wear a helmet when on a bike, scooter, skateboard or skates!

May is Bike to School Month and with the warmer spring weather it’s a great time to encourage students to get out and ride! An easy way to get kids riding is to start a bike train to and from school – a group of neighborhood riders of all ages that can meet up at different locations in their neighborhood to ride together.

It’s like a carpool—without the car—with the added benefits of having safety in numbers (a bigger group of bicyclists can be easily seen by traffic), added exercise, and visits with friends and neighbors.

To start your own neighborhood bike train:

  •  Invite families who live nearby to bike (or walk) together. (or start a sign-up sheet at your school)
  •  Create a route and take a test ride.
  •  Decide how often the group will ride together.
  •  Be sure everyone knows how to be safe on their bike – review hand signals, look for traffic when crossing a street, and ALWAYS wear helmets.
  •  Have fun! (create theme days, decorate your helmets, enjoy nature!)
  • Click here for more tips on creating your own bike train. 

 

Written by Mechelle Martz-Mayfield, Thompson School District Safe Routes to School Coordinator

 

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