by Erin Griffeth, Cache County Sheriff’s Office

Get In the Helmet HabitI remember having a big wheel as a little girl. My neighbor across the street had a long, sloped driveway. My siblings and I would haul our big wheels up to the top of his driveway, and 1-2-3 off we would fly, down the driveway and across the street before skidding to a stop at home. As we grew, we would race around the neighborhood on our bikes, shrieking, laughing and occasionally crying over a skinned knee from an encounter with a rock in the road that would dump us off our bikes. If only, we had realized the risks.

Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile. It is imperative that we teach our children the importance of bicycle safety. According to Safe Kids USA, the simple act of wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of serious injury by as much as 85 percent.

Life has changed a bit since I was a little girl when bike helmets were not a part of the bicycling ensemble. However, research clearly shows that the usage of bicycle helmets will more than likely prevent a serious brain injury in the case of an accident.

Here are some tips to help your family ride safely:

  • Wear a properly fitted helmet. Choose bright colors and make sure the helmet is well ventilated. Most importantly, remember, a helmet only works if you wear it.
  • Make sure you and your children are riding the right sized bikes (there should be a 1” clearance between bike frame and the groin when feet are flat on the ground).
  • Keep your bikes in good repair. Secure reflectors and ensure brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly and that tires are inflated properly and tightly secured.
  • Wear bright-colored, lightweight clothing that is not too loose fitting or flared. Also, wear appropriate shoes (no heels, cleats or flip-flops), and never ride barefoot.
  • Follow road rules by obeying traffic laws and using hand signals.

Make safety a family affair. Set an example for your children by wearing a helmet and following the rules of the road yourself. Take time to ride together so your children can see you demonstrate the safe way to ride a bicycle. It’s a great way to be active as a family and share valuable time together.