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On a bicycle, reflectors and lights can save your child’s life

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04/11/2015

A bicycle is not only a toy, it is also a very efficient means of transport for journeys around town: it is quick, affordable and cheap to maintain as well as being good exercise.

If your children have learnt to ride a bicycle, sooner or later they will be doing it when you are not around to keep an eye on them. When they get older they will use it all the time to either travel to school or to visit their friends. It is therefore important that they learn from an early age to be responsible and cautious when they use it.

Whenever possible they should use the cycle lanes. It is the safest option. When there is no cycle lane and there is no other option they must use the road. Unless we are talking about very small children that are accompanied by their parents, bigger children, teenagers and adults are not allowed to use the footpath; it is too dangerous to pedestrians as well as the cyclist (they can fall and if they are very close to the road, could have a crash).

Of course, when riding a bike on the road they must respect the Highway Code and consider it as another vehicle and themselves as another driver. It is important to respect the right of way at a crossing or at traffic lights (give way and stops), pedestrian crossings and no entry signs, always paying attention to what is ahead of them to allow time to turn around if they have to.

Always remind children that they cannot use a mobile phone while riding a bicycle. It may seem strange to mention it, but they do it and it’s a dangerous distraction. Not only should they not speak on the phone, but trying to text is dangerous too. They should also avoid riding a bike while listening to music through headphones, as they cannot hear other vehicles approaching which is also dangerous.

It is strongly recommended that your children use a crash helmet while riding a bike. Not every state in the USA has laws to make this obligatory. In some states, although not a statewide law it may be a local law.

Within the states or cities that do have regulations, some of them only oblige children to use a helmet but not adults (the age varies, but is generally between 16 and 18 years of age).

The most dangerous time is after dark. If a cyclist is not visible, the chances of having an accident, either a fall or with another vehicle are much higher. It is very important to be visible. It is therefore recommended to use light colored clothing and to wear something reflective (either a high visibility jacket, or reflectors on a backpack, shoes or helmet).

It is also important that the bicycle is prepared for use at night. It should have reflectors attached to reflect the light from car headlights. The very minimum is a red reflector on the back of the bicycle, a pair of orange reflectors on the sides and a white one on the front.

As well as the reflectors, lights are also essential, a red light at the back and a white one at the front. The lights can be fixed or flashing and must be switched on. Nowadays, with LED lights, the batteries used in bicycle lights last must longer and are rechargeable.

Remember, speak to your child. Being visible at night could save their life.

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