Colorado parents of school-age children may have fond memories of their own school days when they were able to bike daily to school in all but the worst winter weather. But for many reasons, they may have hesitated to give the nod to their own kids to cycle to school.
But now, with the air quality safety of school buses being called into question during these fraught times, one question that bears a closer examination — can kids bike to school safely?
Safe biking to school requires preparation
The benefits of bicycling to school are myriad and include:
- Increased fitness opportunities
- Boost to the environment from reduced carbon footprints
- Enhanced coordination and balancing
- Opportunity for social interaction with other kids who bike to school
But children should not simply be given a bike and a bike helmet and told to “have a good ride!” Instead, parents need to prepare their kids sufficiently so that biking to school becomes a safe activity. Read on to learn how you can help make their bicycle ride to school safer.
Plan a safe route (and an alternate)
Before ever turning your kid loose to bike to school, parents should bike the route with them numerous times to make sure that it is safe and familiar. If your child plans to bike to school most days out of the year, you should also help them plot an alternate route in the event that their first choice is not viable due to traffic, inclement weather or other reasons.
Encourage groups of kids to ride together
When it comes to riding bikes, there is safety in numbers for children. Not only do groups of kids discourage adult predators from focusing on a single child rider, groups of bicycling children are more visible to motorists than isolated riders.
Get them all the gear that they need
While bike helmets are an important safety feature, parents should never stop there and figure their kids are well-equipped. Kids who bike to school should also be prepared to deal with minor bike repairs, so make sure they carry a kit with a tire pump, patch kit and even a folded spare innertube.
Your child’s bike should also have a light, reflectors and a bell or horn. Kids should wear either light-colored reflective gear or a vest over their street clothes to help increase their visibility to drivers. Your child should also have a sturdy lock to secure their bike during school hours. Also, make sure that their school has a designated place to park the bikes once the kids arrive on campus.
Understand how most biking accidents happen
Intersections are universally dangerous for cyclists of all ages. But children have a smaller profile than adult bike riders, so they are especially vulnerable to being overlooked by motorists. Make sure that they know and understand the cycling laws here in Larimer County. Should they wind up injured while biking to school, as their parents, you will need to be their legal advocates to ensure that they receive compensation for their injuries and other damages.