Tracie's Thoughts: Teaching your child bicycle safety
August 22, 2019
The other day I saw an incident with a child riding their bicycle that chilled me to the bone and caused me to speak with both the Washakie County Sheriff's Office and the Worland Police Department about bicycle safety and what to parents should know about bicycle safety.
I was at a four-way stop, with a car stopped at each stop sign and a little girl, maybe 8-10 years old and not wearing a helmet or pads, was riding her bike on the sidewalk. With all four cars stopped the child ran the stop sign and came within centimeters of being hit by one of the cars. The car didn't see her, I believe, and I also believe that the child didn't know that she was also required to stop at the stop sign.
Thankfully, nothing tragic happened but it was close, so very, very close.
According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, "There were 783 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2017. As you might expect, when a crash occurs between a vehicle and a bike, it's the cyclist who is most likely to be injured."
Upon talking to law enforcement I learned that anyone riding a bicycle needs to follow the rules of the road. Meaning that the bicyclist needs to ride with traffic, not on the sidewalk, follow all road signs; such as stop, yield, use hand signals and wear the proper protective gear.
Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness stated that anyone, child or adult, can get a free bike helmet at the Law Enforcement Center, all people need to do is ask. Believe me, the Law Enforcement Center has a lot of helmets to give away, I saw their supply.
I know having your child ride their bike on the sidewalk appears to be the safest thing, but there are some places in Worland where that is not allowed. According to Worland Ordinance 684 and 834: The riding of bicycles and use of skateboards, roller skates and rollerblades is prohibited on any sidewalk in any area of the city of Worland zoned GB (general business) or CB (central business) and on any publicly or privately owned parking lots which have been posted with appropriate signage.
Some of the main rules of riding your bike on any roadway are:
- Ride a bike that fits you-if it's too big, it's harder to control the bike.
- Ride a bike that works-it really doesn't matter how well you ride if the brakes don't work.
- Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others, like a bike helmet, bright clothing (during the day), reflective gear, and a white front light and red rear light and reflectors on your bike (at night, or when visibility is poor).
- Ride one per seat, with both hands on the handlebars, unless signaling a turn.
- Carry all items in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike.
- Tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs so they don't get caught in your bike chain.
- Plan your route-if driving as a vehicle on the road, choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Your safest route may be away from traffic altogether, in a bike lane or on a bike path.
- Drive with the flow, in the same direction as traffic.
- Obey street signs, signals, and road markings, just like a car.
- Assume the other person doesn't see you; look ahead for hazards or situations to avoid that may cause you to fall, like toys, pebbles, potholes, grates, train tracks.
- No texting, listening to music or using anything that distracts you by taking your eyes and ears or your mind off the road and traffic.
Let's start the school year with our children prepared and safe.
Tracie Mitchell is a staff writer with the Northern Wyoming News.