On a sunny day in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, Jocelyn and Alexis were especially excited to hit the trail that day because they had recently made a milestone. They had learned to ride without training wheels! Mom and Dad were so proud of them too. Training wheels are an excellent tool for helping your children learn to ride in safety and security. They help keep you steady until you learn to balance on your own. Now we were excited to hit the trail without them for the first time.
As we cultivate a TRAIL FAMILY lifestyle, safety needs to be a top concern. We don’t want to just feel safe like a kid with training wheels. We want to take active steps toward safety. Hitting the trail with your loved ones and making memories for a lifetime is amazing. The last thing we want is for joy to turn to sorrow because someone was severely injured. Here are some bike safety tips from our TRAIL FAMILY to yours.
1. START WITH A CONVERSATION. We are all excited to hit the trail just like Jocelyn and Alexis. We should, however, never assume that our children know about safety practices unless we have taught them to them ourselves. There are a few basic bike safety rules that everyone should know. You can use the rest of this list as the talking points for your conversation with your children.
2. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET. This really is not an option. You may be tempted to skip the helmets because the kids complain or you feel like they look goofy. Don’t fall into the old “I never wore one as a kid and I was fine” mindset. According to cbsnews.com “A study, published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, found that more than 2.2 million children ages 5 to 17 were treated in U.S. emergency departments for bicycle-related injuries from 2006 to 2015.” And 11 percent of those were traumatic brain injuries. We cannot stress enough that wearing a helmet while biking is one of the most crucial safety precautions your TRAIL FAMILY can take. They are worth the investment. Our helmets are GIRO and BELL brand. They are comfortable, adjustable, and stylish.
3. CARRY A FIRST AID KIT. Back to our sunny day ride sans-training wheels. The girls were doing awesome! We were about 1.5 miles from the trail head and on our way back. Jocelyn and Alexis were riding side by side ahead of me. They were a little too close when Alexis wobbled and they collided. It wasn’t major and they were not traveling very fast. The bikes were not damaged at all and Jocelyn was fine. Alexis, however had a few scrapes on her knees and elbow.
I turned to Tim and said, “You have band aids in that pouch under your seat, right?” His answer was, “no, that’s a tool kit.” I assumed that he had some first aid supplies and never asked before we left. The small first aid kit I carry in Calvin’s diaper bag was back at the car. Luckily, Alexis was able to shake it off and get back on her bike. We could have been stranded in a crumby situation. When we got home, I promptly put together a small first aid kit with band aids, some gauze, tape, and antibiotic ointment. It’s nothing fancy. I just put all those items in an empty band aid box and wrote “BIKE FIRST AID KIT” on the outside. Tim also put some band aids in with his tool kit which hangs under his seat. We learned a valuable TRAIL FAMILY lesson that day. Carry a first aid kit.
4. PROCEED CAUTIOUSLY AND AS A GROUP ACROSS ROADWAYS. The majority of the biking we do is on a rail trail with no traffic. Sometimes, however, we need to cross roadways to get to the trail head or to our final destination. When crossing the road our suggestion is, have one adult in front, the kids single file following, and another adult last in line. Keep in a close group as you cross so that motorists can see that there are more cyclists coming behind the lead adult. If you are not confident that everyone can keep up with the leader, or if traffic is heavy, or you are crossing around a corner, then walk your bikes across the road. If you only have one adult in the group, you should walk your bikes, because you can always drop them and run in a bad situation.
5. COMMUNICATE AS YOU RIDE. This one is part of good trail biking etiquette. When other cyclists, walkers, or joggers are coming the opposite way on the trail; your group should move to the right side in single file. Everyone now can pass each other easily, like on a regular roadway. If you want to pass someone who is going the same direction as you, you should call out “on your right” or “on your left” so that the other person is aware of your presence and intention to pass. Practice this passing procedure within your group as well.
Have you considered what unique safety situations you may encounter as a TRAIL FAMILY? What safety tips from this list can you begin to implement today?
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