Using the acronym b.i.k.e.s.m.a.r.t. with your kids will introduce them to the basic rules of bicycling safety.
Using the term "bike smart," the Virginia Dept of Transportation has created an easy and fun way to remember biking's most basic safety rules. With their permission, we have reprinted these rules and hope you will share them with your children before heading out for a neighborhood ride.
Be aware of everyone and everything around you.
Ride in a predictable manner. Do not assume that a motorist will see you. If you are unsure about a motorist's intentions, yield.
Illuminate at night.
Riding at night is dangerous. A headlight and rear reflectors are required by law. A flashing taillight is a good common sense addition.
Keep clear of parked cars.
Doors can open suddenly in front of you. When riding in traffic, look into side view mirrors of parked cars for people preparing to exit their car.
Bicycle classes and "Effective Cycling" courses are offered in many communities.
Stay away from sidewalks.
Or stay on designated bike routes. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. When on designated pathways, provide warning when passing other bicyclists and pedestrians.
Make sure you wear a helmet.
At least 75% of all bicycle injuries are head injuries. Adjust your helmet correctly: the forward straps of the helmet need to be tight enough to keep the brim of your helmet across your forehead. This will usually place the strap's Y clip directly below your ear.
Avoid the "right hook."
Watch for cars and buses making a right turn in front of you. Never pass a bus or car on the right as you approach an intersection, as you might get caught between the vehicle and a curb.
Ride on the right side of the road.
Make sure you ride in the same direction as vehicle traffic.
Traffic laws are the same for motorists and bicyclists.
Obey the rules of the road.
Bicycle classes and "Effective Cycling" courses are offered in many communities. For more information on the Effective Cycling program and possible locations to take this workshop in your area, contact: League of American Bicyclists (202/822-1333).
When you're ready to ride off, check out sites like Pedaling.com, which provide routes and level of difficulty information for family bike rides throughout North America.
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