With schools across the city welcoming students back to the classroom, the number of children riding bikes will begin to increase. Chicago is considered one of the most bike friendly cities in the country, and many citizens use bicycles for transportation, including students. Students both in Chicago and in Illinois suburbs frequently ride bicycles to get to and from school.
Cycling for transportation is a healthy and fun option for students, but it is important for both parents and kids to do everything possible to remain safe. Here are some safety tips to help ensure you and children are safe this back to school season!
- Always make sure your child is wearing properly fitted bicycle helmet: Head injuries are common during bike accidents; helmets are an easy way to protect your child’s head and brain and significantly reduce your child’s risk of a traumatic brain injury.
- Don’t ride during bad weather: When there are heavy rains, drivers’ visibility is decreased, placing bicyclists in danger of not being seen. Bad weather can also make terrain slippery and dangerous for cyclists so if the weather is threatening, consider an alternate means of transportation for your child to make it to and from school.
- Dress to be seen: Encourage children to wear reflective or neon colors while riding, even during the day, to make them more visible to drivers. This can catch the attention of passing drivers and make sure a driver really notices and sees your child and her bicycle long before the driver is close to the rider. Further, consider using reflective tape, markings, or additional lights on your child’s bicycle and helmet if he will be riding during dusk or dark hours.
- Discourage riding at night: If your child has to ride at night, make sure her bicycle has a white light at the front of the bike and a red light on the back to alert vehicles to her presence. Also encourage your children to wear reflective clothing and to make themselves as visible as possible on the road.
- Teach children the proper hand signals: It is important for all bicyclists to know the proper hand signals to alert vehicles on the road when they are turning. Often, this is an overlooked part of bicycle safety when kids learn to ride but it is one that should be emphasized, not ignored. A properly used hand signal can make the difference between a carefree ride and a collision in some instances.
- Make sure kids to know to always ride with the flow of traffic: Riding in the wrong direction or in a manner contrary to Illinois law can dramatically increase the risks of a child being involved in a bicycle accident. To limit this risk as much as possible, make sure your child understands proper riding procedures and how to ride with traffic, not against it.
- Avoid distracting riding: Distraction is not only a problem among drivers in Chicago. Rather, cyclists also must focus on their actions on a bike and refrain from distractions to be safe. Encourage your children to remain off their cell phones while riding and discourage them from using headphones while on a bicycle as headphones can block important traffic noise, like the approach of an ambulance or a vehicle’s horn.
Ideally, your child will remain safe this school year and will not be involved in a bicycle accident or other traffic crash. However, if the unthinkable happens and your child is injured, make sure you understand your legal options and whether your child is entitled to relief for his damages.
Prior Blog Entry:
Illinois Passes Clear Legislation to Give Bicyclists the Same Rights as Motor Vehicles on Public Roadways, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 8, 2016.
Kids and Bicycle Safety, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, published April 2006.
Bicycles, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.