A California town sponsored a Ride of Silence bicycling event, and recently honored a 12-year old who was killed in September 2012 while riding her bike on a busy street. Hailey Ratliff was killed when a commercial truck driver made a hasty decision to avoid upcoming construction and turned in the path of Hailey who was riding her bike along the side of the road. While heroic in the community’s efforts to honor Hailey’s spirit, the event is a just a sad reminder of how children fall in the line of fire with bicycle injuries and death all the time.
The upcoming summer season brings more and more kids and teens out on the streets and sidewalks, playing on scooters, riding skateboards, and commuting to and from their friends’ home on their bikes. This is a great time to remind your children of some safe riding practices before it’s too late. Rules of the road for children are the same as they are for adults, but these rules become even more important when we often have to be the voice for our kids who are easily distracted and don’t always remember what they’ve been told. Summertime means freedom, and kids are eager to play with friends. Here are some simple tips to help reduce dangers and increase the pleasures of bike riding:
- Bike Riding 101: Always wear a helmet! No if, ands or buts about it. Insist that your child wears one at all times, and set the positive example by following your own lead.
- Scout out the best routes for travel, so that your young riders can stay off busy streets and roadways.
- Inform your child that wearing a helmet might prevent him or her from hearing upcoming cars and noises. Remind your child to always stop, look and listen, whether on foot or on bike when crossing the street or approaching an intersection.
- Instruct your child to walk the bike across the road, instead of riding it across.
- On a bike, avoid riding too close to parked cars–although the car is parked there may be someone in the car and injuries are often caused by doors that are opened suddenly.
The City of Boston is being proactive in its approach to prevent bike accidents after a long-time study that reveals crashed data over a period of time. This data has proven helpful for the city with plans to move forward in making the city more user-friendly for cyclists. Knowing what time of day and where bicycle accidents most occur has led the City to reconstruct rules of the road and implement more bike lanes. As a result, bikers will be cited for running red lights, in an effort to follow the safer cycling rules of the road.
Boston is working toward a biker-friendly city, but not all cities have bike lanes. Children should be instructed that they need to be cautious at all times. A bike is not a toy, but a vehicle for transportation that can serve them well for years to come if safety measures are practiced early in life.