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Learning to ride a bike is a joyful rite of passage for kids around the world. There are few moments quite as special as letting go of the bike seat and watching a child pedaling steadily ahead for the first time. Pride is often quickly followed by panic. “Stop before the alley!”

Bike safety for kids is about more than wearing a helmet and looking both ways at intersections. But most adults lack the knowledge to teach more than the basics. Check out our tips and resources for helping children gain the understandings and skills needed for a lifetime of safe, confident, and fun bicycling.

Learning How to "Drive a Bike"

Once a child knows how to ride a bike, they need to learn how to “drive” it safely. Kids are not just small adults. They have a narrower field of vision, less ability to judge speed or distance, and may be impatient and impulsive. It’s important to teach them the skills needed to avoid the most common causes of crashes –and learning these skills takes practice. Read more for tips.

Bikes and Helmets

Make sure your child has a bike that is in good working condition and fits properly – a bicycle is not something to “grow into.” Teach the ABC Quick Check – Air (full tires), Brakes (working and not rubbing), Chain and Crank (lubed chain and tight cranks) and Quick (if relevant, make sure quick release levers are secure).

Helmet fit is also crucial. When a helmet is too loose, it can slide back, leaving a child’s forehead exposed. To remember how to adjust a helmet, think: Eyes, Ears, Mouth.

  • The front rim should be barely visible to your eye
  • The Y of the side straps should meet just below your ear
  • The chin strap should be snug under your chin; when you open your mouth wide the helmet should tug a bit.
Other Resources

The internet is full of resources about kids and biking, ranging from skipping training wheels in favor of scooters to the moment your child takes off on an adventure without adult supervision. Read more for materials developed by Ride Illinois, and some of our other favorite resources.