Our friends from other states tease us “flatlanders” about riding our bike in Kansas. Obviously they have never traveled to the northwest part of Barton county and other parts of the state. I also like to point out that we may not have a lot of hills but we have lots of wind! This spring has been full of windy days so we plan our rides to head in to the wind first and then enjoy a tailwind on the way home.
While we are on the subject of bicycling, I would like to share these basic reminders with you and your family.
· Consider a helmet a necessity, rather than an extra. Without a helmet, riders who sustain an injury are 14 times more likely to become a fatality. Choose one that meets or exceeds safety standards established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Make sure the helmet fits, rather than one a child will grow into. Replace the helmet if an accident occurs or if the helmet is badly jarred or cracked.
· Ride with the traffic, rather than facing the traffic. Consider adding a rear view mirror to your bicycle gear. I have one that attaches to my helmet so I can constantly monitor the traffic behind us.
· Obey traffic signals. Use hand signals to let others know your intentions.
· Stay alert and keep your mind on your riding. This should be the same advice for many people in cars. Too many times we have been in close calls with drivers who are on cell phones or just inattentive to the traffic around them.
Many parents ask at what age a child is old enough to ride in the street rather than on the sidewalk. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all age. A child’s maturity level is the main factor. Other factors are: the size of the community, traffic patterns and congestion, and whether it is a residential area or a business district. A smaller community can seem peaceful and safe, but may have periods when safety is compromised – for example, after a ball game, during a community festival, or at harvest time.
Now go out and enjoy this beautiful spring weather with a family bike ride!