10 bike safety tips for kids

At Kaiser Permanente, we’re dedicated to improving the total health of the communities we serve. That’s why we’ve partnered with the YMCA and Cascade Bicycle Club to encourage bicyclists to wear a helmet whenever they get on their bikes. On April 29 for YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, we provided helmet fitting guidance, answered bike safety questions and gave away free bike helmets at 16 Puget Sound locations. We’ll also join Spokane’s Healthy Kids Day events on June 2. If you’re a member, let us know if you’re coming to a Healthy Kids Day event, and say “hi” while you’re there.

Kids’ bike fatalities are down 92 percent since 1975. Yet despite this encouraging trend, more children aged 5–14 are seen in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries than from any other sport.  “Properly fitted bicycle helmets are the single most important safety device for cyclists of all ages and are estimated to reduce head injury risk by as much as 85 percent,” says John Dunn, MD, a Kaiser Permanente Washington pediatrician. “Make it a rule that no one in your family cycles without a helmet, no matter how short the ride.”

“Every lesson, event, or class in Cascade Bicycle Club’s education programming begins with ensuring that helmets are properly fit,” said Shannon Koller, Cascade Bicycle Club’s Senior Director of Education. “We’re grateful to Kaiser Permanente for providing wide access to bike helmets at the upcoming YMCA Healthy Kids Days.”

Help your kids cycle safe

1. Choose the right bike.

Children should be able to sit on the bicycle seat, hands on the handlebars, and have the balls of their feet touch the ground. Don’t select a bike for your child to “grow into.” Foot-operated brakes, rather than hand brakes, are safest for younger children.

2. Always wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet.

The helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position and not rock forward, backward, or side to side. The helmet straps should form a V under the ears, and should be snug but comfortable. Watch the one minute video after this list to see how it’s done.

3. Check the bike’s mechanics often.

Are the brakes working properly, the gears shifting smoothly, and the tires tightly secured and properly inflated?

4. Wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors.

It’s important to wear a bright shirt, jacket, or vest, even during daylight hours. Front white lights, rear red lights, and other light reflectors should be placed on the bicycle and worn by the cyclist.

5. Never ride at dusk or after dark.

Night riding requires skills that most children haven’t acquired.

6. Don’t wear headphones or listen to tunes while riding.

Cyclists need to be able to hear oncoming traffic and be fully focused on hazards.

7. Follow the rules of the road.

Ride on the right side of roads, in the same direction as other vehicles. (Almost one fourth of bicycle-car collisions result from bicyclists riding against traffic.) Obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. Use hand signals when turning.

8. Beware of drivers in parked cars.

They may open their doors or pull out unexpectedly.

9. Don’t wear long or loose clothing.

It can get caught in bike chains or wheel spokes.

10. Make eye contact with drivers.

Be sure that they’re paying attention before crossing in front of them or pulling into their lane. Just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean they can see you.

How to fit a bike helmet

It’s important to make sure helmets fit well. If you could use a helmet-fitting refresher course, watch this one-minute demo from Matthew Handley, MD, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center in Seattle.


Healthy Kids Day helmet giveaway

On April 29, Kaiser Permanente provided kids’ bike helmets at YMCA Healthy Kids Day events throughout Western Washington, with more to come in the Spokane area in June. Here are upcoming helmet fittings in Spokane and photos from our April 29 events.

We’ll have 100 helmets at each event. If you’re hoping to get a helmet, consider arriving early.

Valley YMCA Healthy Kids Day
Friday, June 2, 6 – 8 p.m
2421 N Discovery Place
Spokane, WA, 99216

Demo Day and Wellness Fair hosted by Spokane County Fire District 9
Saturday, June 3, 10 am. – 2 p.m.

Station 92
3801 E Farwell Road
Mead, WA, 99021

Free Kaiser Helmets from Kaiser Permanente

Helmets: ‘As important as seatbelts’

As an emergency medicine physician for Kaiser Permanente, Bruce Evans, MD, gets regular reminders of the importance of wearing your helmet during recreational activities such as bicycling, skateboarding and snowboarding.

Want more local health news, wellness tips, recipes, and more? Subscribe to our email newsletter.