Do you have any information on bicycle safety? In particular, I’m interested in rules of the road and the proper use of bicycle helmets.
Bike riding is a great way to get exercise, fresh air and share time as a family but, before you and the kids rush out and start pedaling, there's an important factor that you need to consider; safety. This article will cover helmets and bike maintenance. In the future, I’ll review some basic rules of the road. The following information is provided by Kids Health at www.kidshealth.org.
Bicycle helmet use should not be optional for anyone in your family, no matter where you are or how short the ride. Massachusetts law requires individuals sixteen years of age and under who operate a bicycle (or who ride as a passenger on a bicycle), wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet. Here's why:
Most bike accidents involve a head injury, so a crash could mean permanent brain damage or death for someone who doesn't wear one while riding. In fact, each year in the United States, about half a million kids are seriously injured in bicycle-related accidents, and most of those injuries could have been avoided if a helmet was worn.
Here are some things to keep in mind when buying a helmet:
- Pick bright colors that are visible to drivers and other cyclists.
- Look for a helmet that's well ventilated.
- Make sure that the helmet has a CPSC or Snell sticker inside. These indicate that the helmet meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the Snell Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit group that tests helmet safety.
- Make sure your child's helmet fits correctly and can be adjusted.
- You should be able to get help finding a well-fitting helmet and adjusting it properly at any bicycle store.
- When kids wear a helmet, make sure that the straps are fastened. Also make sure they don't wear any other hat underneath it.
- Be sure to replace any helmet made before 1999. If your child hits any surface hard while wearing a helmet, replace it — helmets lose their capacity to absorb shock after taking serious hits.
- A few bike helmets can be used as protection for other activities, but in general, they're best suited to biking. Most helmets are made for one specific type of activity — for example, special helmets also are made for inline skating, baseball, and snowmobiling.
- Kids should not wear any helmet when they're on a playground or climbing a tree — there is a risk of strangulation from the chin strap during these types of activities
Check your child's bike at least once each season to keep it safe and well-maintained.
Be sure to check:
- Tires - inflate to the pressure that's recommended on the sidewall of the tire
- Chain - oil it regularly and remove dirt
- Handlebars - adjust for height as your child grows and tighten all bolts
- Brakes - check for frayed cables and replace worn-out brake pads
- Seat - keep the seat level and adjust for height as needed
Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519. You may also email your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include an appropriate subject line, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons.
Normand A. Crepeau, Jr.
Chief of Police