Child riding his bike down the street.

Child Health | one month ago

Expert Tips to Help Kids Ride with Care

Protect your kids from bike-related injuries with these safety tips.

Most kids live for summer – the longer days and school breaks mean more time for bike rides and outdoor adventures. While it’s great to stay active and get some fresh air, it’s important to help kids enjoy these activities safely.   

Whether you’re enjoying a driveway playdate or exploring a new greenway trail, our experts at Atrium Health Levine Children’s share a few reminders about bike safety to help protect you and your family this summer.

Heads Up

From bikes and trikes to scooters and skateboards, it’s important to wear a helmet when you’re riding anything with wheels. Akilah Grimes, MD, pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Suburban Pediatrics, says the most common bike injuries she has seen are from children riding bikes without helmets and getting hit by cars. Dr. Grimes tells her patients a bike and a helmet should go hand in hand. “Sometimes my patients will push back by saying they’re not on their bike a lot or don’t go very far, but I always tell them you never know what could happen,” Dr. Grimes says.

In 2021, Levine Children's Emergency Department saw 140 bicycle-related trauma injuries in patients under 18 years old. “These numbers do not reflect any other bicycle related pediatric injury that might have been seen at any other hospital, urgent care or doctor's office in our county,” says Shannon Wilfong, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator at Atrium Health’s Levine Children's Hospital. “If we included those seen at other hospitals, those who sadly did not make it to the hospital, or more minor incidents that were treated by a primary care provider or urgent care facility, we are likely looking at thousands of preventable incidents.”

Wilfong says wearing a helmet is the best way to reduce your chance of a head injury during a fall or crash.

If your kid tends to buck helmet wearing, Dr. Grimes suggests framing helmet safety the same way you would with seatbelts. “It’s a proactive safety measure everyone needs to take,” Dr. Grimes says. Modeling behaviors and wearing a helmet when you ride with your child can help set a positive example.

Dr. Grimes adds that helmets should also be worn when riding four-wheelers and dirt bikes. It’s also good to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under the age of 16 not be allowed to operate off­-road vehicles like ATVs.

Reinforce the Rules of the Road

Teach kids that bicycles are vehicles, just like cars, so all road rules apply equally to bikes that would apply to cars. Wilfong suggests starting education young. It is important to learn about road rules and how they apply to bicycles in order to stay safe on the road. As you walk around your neighborhood, start pointing out stop signs and crosswalks. Teach children how to respond to these signs. "Having these conversations when they're little helps them remember road rules as they get older and ready to ride anything with wheels," Wilfong says.

Remind children to always pay attention to what is around them, and that riding in the middle of the road is very dangerous. “Teaching your child where it is safe to ride can help reduce their chance of being seriously injured,” Wilfong says.

Ready to Roll

Keep these quick tips in mind to help keep your child safe on the road:

  • Before hitting the road for a ride, do a bike check. Inspect tires for air pressure, test the brakes, make sure chains are in good condition, and check the shifting.
  • Check helmet fit and replace helmets if they are getting too small or have been in a crash. Also, be sure the bike your child is riding is age appropriate – in size and difficulty.
  • Teach children to be aware of their surroundings and always look left and right before crossing a street.
  • Try to avoid night rides. If your child must be out in the dark, wearing bright reflective clothing and having lights on their bike can help them be more visible to drivers.
  • Follow precautions for ATVs to lessen the risk of injury to you and your child.

If you have any questions about bike safety, ask your pediatrician. You can find a pediatrician here.