Cycling is a great activity for families – not only is it a fun to do together, it’s also a great way of keeping fit and getting some fresh air! Plus it’s a great way to keep the kids entertained this summer holidays. However, it’s really important that you stay safe if you’ll be cycling on the roads this summer as a family. In 2015 there were 18,844 cyclist casualties on UK roads, the majority of which could have been avoided. But don’t let this stop you from getting out on your bikes, just make sure you’re prepared with our cycling safety top tips.
Learn the highway code
Before you embark on your bike ride, it’s crucial that you teach your children basic road safety… and that you brush up on the highway code! That way, you know what’s expected of you as cyclists, helping to keep the whole family safe on the roads.
Children may know they should never run a red light, and that they must indicate when they’re turning a corner… but did they know that at night, their bike must have a fully functioning white front light and rear red light? And that their bike must be fitted with a red rear reflector? Did you know that? If not, don’t worry; you can brush up on your own knowledge of the highway code for cyclists here.
Another important rule to remember when cycling as a family is that you’re not supposed to ride on pavements (except children under ten), unless otherwise specified. If your next family bike ride incorporates paths, then make your children aware that they shouldn’t cycle too fast, or dart in between pedestrians.
Teaching basic road safety to your children will not only keep you and your family safe, but it will also help to keep everyone else around you safe too.
One of the most important measures you can take to stay safe whilst cycling is to wear protective clothing. That means as parents, it’s time to lead by example!
Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious head injuries by nearly 70%, so you should all wear one when cycling.
For adults, old helmets lying around will probably fit correctly, but growing kids may need a new helmet before they hit the roads.
To find the right size helmet for your child, start by measuring their head circumference (helmets come in cm sizes, so you’ll need an idea of what size they may be). The right size helmet will sit level on your child’s head, with an inch gap between their eyebrows and the helmet. The straps need to sit firm when buckled up, but not be too tight or loose. Need some more help choosing the right helmet size? Read our guide on how to fit your child’s bike helmet.
Other items to consider are knee and elbow pads (particularly if your children are fairly new to cycling), and reflective clothing if you think you may be cycling in the dark.
Ultimately, whilst the law doesn’t state you should wear a helmet when cycling, they can help to prevent serious injuries and we would always recommend you wear one.
Ensure you’re road-ready
Before you and your family begin your bike ride, check that all of your bikes are road-ready using the handy checklist below courtesy of GOOD magazine. Or, if your trusty steed is a bit worse for wear, you can always take a look at something new. After all, you don’t want to cause an accident that could have easily been avoided.
Check your tyres are inflated properly, and your breaks work correctly. Growing children may also need their seat adjusting. Generally speaking, when your child is sitting on their bike, their feet should just brush the floor. Less confident cyclists may prefer to be able to rest the balls of their feet on the floor, so that they can make an emergency stop if needed.
Ride at the back
When you’re cycling as as a family, ride behind your children so that you can see them at all times. If there’s another adult with you, then ask them to ride at the front so that they can look out for any potential problems up ahead, whilst your children are safely in between the two of you.
Cycling is a great family-fun activity. By taking these precautions, you can help your family to stay safe whilst riding on the roads this summer.