Summer is here, and for many area youth, these long, sunny days are the perfect time to get on their bikes to get around town,” said Dr. Rock Jean-Guillaume, director, Baystate Wing Emergency Department, also known as Dr. Rock. “Biking is a great activity but proper safety measures are important to keeping kids injury-free. Accidents can and will happen while biking, even on the quietest roads and safest sidewalks.”
“Bike accidents are a major cause of emergency room visits for children,” Dr. Rock noted. “Parents may think their children are safe riding around the neighborhood. But research tells us that most serious bicycle crashes occur on quiet neighborhood streets, this is especially true for young children.”
Bike accidents are the second-leading cause of serious injury in school-age children. According to a 2013 Safe Kids Report; 238,337 children ages 19 and under were seen in emergency rooms for injuries from riding bikes, and at least 10,000 kids have injuries that require a hospital stay. Nearly 30% of all cycling deaths happen on residential streets.
“The good news is that bike helmets reduce the risk of head injury,” Dr. Rock said. “During a fall or crash, a helmet absorbs much of the force of impact that would otherwise be directed to the head. Thick plastic foam (firm polystyrene) inside the hard outer shell of a helmet provides protection that cushions the blow.”
Encouraging families to be aware of the importance of bicycle safety, Dr. Rock offers the following Bike Safety Tips:
- Wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet every time you ride. Adults should teach by example, and always wear a helmet when cycling.
- Children are more likely to wear a helmet if he or she likes the way it looks. Many bike helmets today are lightweight and come in cool colors. Personalize helmets with reflective stickers that will make them more visible to vehicles.
- Bicyclists are required to obey the same rules of the road. Ride with traffic, never against traffic, stop at all stop signs and obey all traffic lights.
- Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing. When riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light.
- A new helmet should be purchased after a crash. Even if the helmet appears fine, the interior may be damaged.
- Make sure all bikes are in good condition; tires inflated properly and check brakes regularly! Kids grow quickly – be sure that the seat and handle bars are adjusted properly for your child’s size.
Dr. Rock warns parents not to ride a bike at all with a child under the age of 1 year because a baby's neck muscles may not be strong enough to support a helmet.