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Bike Safety

Biking is a fun way for children of all ages to get active and stay fit. Most children learn to ride a tricycle around 3 years of age. Between 4 and 7 years of age most children learn to ride a bike. However, remember that each child is different and will learn to ride a bike at his or her own pace.

Biking can be an athlete’s primary sport, as well as a way for athletes to cross-train and avoid overuse injuries. Injured athletes often use biking to stay in shape during rehabilitation before returning to their sport.

While not all injuries can be prevented, the risk of injuries can be reduced. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about how to choose a bike and prevent biking injuries.

How to Choose a Bike

Parents should choose a bike that allows the child to sit on the seat and touch both feet on the ground. Also, while standing there should only be a few inches between the top center bar of the bike and the child’s inner groin. Tricycles allow a child to practice steering and pedaling. Bicycles with training wheels or bikes with no pedals can help with balance when learning to ride. Avoid purchasing a larger bike for the child to “grow into”.

Injury Prevention and Safety Tips

Safety gear should fit properly and be well maintained. Everyone riding a tricycle or bike should wear a well-fitting helmet. Helmets are the most important protective gear for bikers and should meet the standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Knee, elbow and wrist pads may be useful for beginners or trick riders.

When biking, children should wear bright-colored clothing so they are easily seen by other bikers, walkers and drivers. Pant cuffs should be tight to avoid getting caught in the wheels or chain. Sturdy, closed-toed shoes should be worn to protect the toes with shoelaces that are tied securely.

When a child is learning to ride a bike, the area should be free of traffic and distractions. Parents should also choose areas without gravel, loose sand, or puddles. Learning to ride on a softer surface like grass will lower the risk of an injury from falls. It is always best to stay on a designated bike path. Children should not bike in the dark or twilight hours because it can be difficult for them to see or be seen.

Bikers should observe the rules of the road at all times. They should get off the bike to cross roads and observe stop signs. It is also important to ride with traffic, and stay as far to the right as allowed when riding on the road. Other safety tips include learning hand signals, learning how to ride a bicycle predictably, and even having “third eye” mirrors installed on their bikes or helmets (essential for safe road biking). Never wear headphones, text or talk on a cell phone while biking.


Last Updated 12/13/2010

Source Care of the Young Athlete Patient Education Handouts (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics). For more information visit

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.