Generally, younger children should start off riding on sidewalks with an adult nearby. Teach your new cyclist to:
As kids mature and ride faster on sidewalks, the potential for conflicts with pedestrians and drivers increases. Faster-moving bicyclists on sidewalks are harder for motorists to see than cyclists on the right side of the road. Studies have shown that sidewalk cyclists riding against traffic are much more likely to collide with cars than on-road riders going in the same direction as traffic. Very few bikes get hit from behind – most adult car-bike crashes occur at intersections. As cyclists get faster, biking on many streets becomes safer than sidewalk riding.
When your child is ready, practice road riding together to teach skills such as: bicycling defensively, scanning around for traffic, looking back (and listening) for cars behind, proper lane positioning when turning (or going straight), and hand signaling. Select routes appropriate to their skill and comfort level. Have them take the Child Bicyclist version of our Bike Safety Quiz so you can see what they know and where they need more practice. Most important: Set a good example by following all traffic laws –which apply to bikes just as they do to cars. And, don’t forget your helmet!
Children can test their knowledge with a short quiz.
Our Bike Safety Quiz is more in-depth, allowing children to increase their knowledge and safety.