Ways to Make Your Child’s Bicycle Safer

Family riding bikesKids just love to ride a bike, but statistics show that bicycling can be a potentially dangerous activity, with nearly half a million emergency room visits every year related to bike accidents. Though many of the accidents are the result of lack of supervision, authorities say that safety features (or lack thereof) can also contribute to accidents. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission has a specific set of design guidelines that manufacturer’s must follow when selling or marketing bicycles, with special standards for children’s bicycles.

The CSPC determines whether a bicycle must comply with the standards set for children’s bikes by looking at the wheel size, with the safety regulations varying based on wheel size. As a general rule, bikes with a 12-16 inch wheel base (as compared to the full-sized 23 inch base) must have more built-in safety features, as their users, small children, will have less strength and coordination. Here are some of the guidelines:

Balance Bicycles

The most basic type of child bike is what is known as the “balance bike.” This bicycle has no pedals, gears or drive system at all. It is designed entirely to be propelled either by the child, or with assistance from an adult. These bikes are most often used by children under the age of four. Because they are not considered road bikes in any sense, they do not need brakes or reflectors.

Sidewalk Bikes

Balance bikes fall under the broader category of “sidewalk bikes,” which are generally not intended for use on roadways. As a general rule, these bikes don’t have a wheelbase larger than 12 inches. If the height of the seat is less than 22 inches, these bikes don’t need brakes. If the seat is higher than 22 inches, the bike must have a foot brake. These bikes are considered entry-level or training bikes, and should only be used by children under the age of five. They typically have training wheels and, if they have a chain, must also have a guard.

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