Bike Safety: Preparing for Walk/Bike to School Day, October 4

Gathering at Depot Park for the bike ride to Lane School – Spring, 2015 – Courtesy image (c) JMcCT, 2015 all rights reserved

With International Walk and Bike to School day coming up on October 4, it is a good time for families to talk about bike safety.  Although no mode of travel can ever be 100% risk-free, there are many ways to reduce the risks of accident and injury.

Let’s start with what PARENTS can do:

  • Set the example for your kids when you are out on a family bike ride.  Obey the rules of the road, which apply equally to motorists and cyclists.  Make sure your kids know those rules and are mature enough to remember and obey them.
  • Figure out the safest route to and from school.  The safest route may not be the shortest route.
  • Make sure the bicycle is in good condition and properly adjusted for the rider.  Check seat height, brakes, and tires.  Use a basket or panniers for carrying books or backpack.  Consider a rear-view mirror so your child can be aware of traffic coming from behind without having to turn their head.
  • Make sure bike helmets are the right size and adjusted to fit properly.
  • Increase the visibility of your child through the use of bright colored clothing or jackets, bike lights and/or reflectors.  Lights and reflectors are required for cycling after dark.
  • Ask your child how the ride went, once they get home from school.  Were there any close calls, or any tricky parts where they didn’t feel safe?
What can CYCLISTS do to reduce risks?
  • Wear your helmet.  It’s the law if you are 16 or younger, and an important safety measure at any age.
  • Follow the rules of the road.   Travel on the right side of the road, with traffic.  Use hand signals when turning or changing lanes.  Stop at stop signs and red lights.
  • Lower your speed as needed.  Ride in a controlled, predictable way.
  • Pay close attention to traffic.  Ride defensively, assume drivers may not notice you.  Yield to pedestrians.
  • When passing parked cars, leave yourself room in case a car door suddenly opens.
  • When crossing a road, it may be safest to stop, dismount and cross at a crosswalk as a pedestrian, especially at busy intersections.
  • Before entering or crossing a bike lane or bike path, be alert to other cyclists (or pedestrians) already traveling on the path.
Finally, what should MOTORISTS do to reduce risks for cyclists?
  • Share the road.  Cyclists are vehicles and have just as much right to the road as you do.
  • Don’t get any closer than 3 feet when passing a cyclist.  Slow down and wait if it is unsafe to pass a cyclist, for example, due to oncoming traffic.
  • Pay attention.  Distracted, careless or impaired drivers are probably the greatest risk for cyclists.
  • Use your turn signal and look for oncoming cyclists before you turn.  This includes looking in your rearview mirror for cyclists approaching from behind, on either side of your car.
  • After parking, look behind you before opening the car door.
  • Avoid honking at cyclists unless absolutely necessary.  It could startle them and cause a crash.
For more information on traffic safety rules for cars and bikes, visit SameRoadsSameRules.org, then visit https://www.bedfordma.gov/healthy-bedford/pages/safe-routes-to-school for more information on International Walk and Bike to School Day:
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