Bicycles are the perfect means of transport to get around a city. They do not pollute, they avoid traffic jams, riders exercise and both adults and children enjoy riding them.
Whether riding as a passenger or as drivers, it is important that parents and children follow a number of recommendations for safe cycling. We must consider that a bicycle is not just a toy but a means of transport:
-When riding as passengers:
The bicycle must obviously be in good condition: brakes, wheels, lights...
As for safety equipment, all children riding as passengers must wear a helmet. Adults do not have to wear a helmet on urban roads. We do however recommend they use one even when on these roads. On the one hand, they are more protected and, on the other, they set an example and motivate children to follow the same behavior.
Furthermore, they should wear reflective elements and lights to be more visible to other users, as well as bright clothing.
Bear in mind that an adult (over 18 years old) can only take a child as a passenger if he/she is under 7 years old. Children must ride in an approved seat according to the UNE-EN 14344:2005 standard. These seats have a backrest, a harness and footrests. We must make sure the seat is perfectly attached to the bicycle. Seats at the back are the most common and are attached on top of the luggage rack. There are also front seats that attach to the bar between the saddle and the handlebars.
There are also small trailers for bicycles, although they are not regulated. On urban roads, the regulations state that municipal rules must be complied with. Therefore, it is down to the particular town hall where you live to decide whether or not this type of trailer can be used. On interurban roads the use of trailers to transport people is not permitted.
-When the child is riding a bicycle:
It is essential to teach children the main safety rules when riding a bicycle, as well as road traffic rules. Bear in mind that parents ride with children and teach them how to use the bicycle, but a time will come when they will be able to ride on their own as their means of transport. It is therefore important to teach them a set of rules from the beginning so they remember them from there on.
Helmets should be used at all times and especially when learning to ride a bicycle, whether they are using stabilizers or riding on two wheels. We remind you that in Spain it is compulsory to wear a helmet on interurban roads.
Helmets must also be worn in cities if the child is under 16. Whether in this age range or not, we need to remember that helmets protect and, therefore, we recommend using one at all times.
Lights, vests and reflective elements, bright colors, everything counts to make the cyclist more visible to other road users.
Young children must ride on the sidewalks and always with a parent and/or tutor. All other cyclists should ride on bicycle lanes. Please remember that only young children can ride on sidewalks, otherwise it would be dangerous for pedestrians and the actual cyclist.
If there is no bicycle lane, they must ride on the road. When cyclists ride on roads, they must respect all the road traffic rules as they are considered as another vehicle. It is essential to respect priorities at crossroads (give way and stop), pedestrian crossings (you should always get off your bike when crossing and give way to pedestrians), traffic lights and "no entry" signs. Always look carefully before turning and signal before doing so.
Also be careful with parked cars as they can open the door at any time and cyclists, due to their size, are hardly visible.
Obviously avoid distractions: you must not use your mobile phone while riding a bicycle or wear earphones as you will not hear other vehicles which is very dangerous.
If riding at night time, you must have reflectors on different parts of the bicycle that reflect the light from a cars' headlights. The minimum element is a red reflector at the back, two orange side reflectors on the wheels and one white reflector at the front.
As well as the reflectors, cyclists must also use lights. A red one at the back and a white one at the front. The light can be fixed or flashing, but must be turned on. Nowadays with LED lighting systems, bicycle light batteries last longer and are also rechargeable.