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Bicycle Safety


Bicycle safety includes choosing the right bicycle and following safety rules to prevent injury. A bicycle accident can cause serious injuries, including chronic brain injuries.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You or your child hit your head or face during a bicycle accident.

  • You or your child may have broken bones caused by a bicycle accident.

  • You or your child vomits or coughs up blood after a bicycle accident.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about bicycle safety.

What to know about bicycles before you buy one:

  • Make sure the bicycle is the right size. The size checks are the same for adults and children. The rider should be able to stand on flat feet with one leg on each side of the bicycle. There should be 1 to 3 inches between the rider and the top bar. It should be easy to hold the handlebars without having to lean forward, and to hold the hand brakes.

  • Buy a helmet that fits. A helmet helps protect you from a head or face injury. Check inside the helmet for a sticker or label stating that the helmet meets safety standards. The helmet should be approved by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

  • Get the right equipment. The bicycle should have reflectors, a horn or bell, a side-view mirror, and head and tail lights. Your child's bicycle may need training wheels until he learns to keep his balance.

Check the following before you ride or let your child ride:

  • Check that the brakes work properly and the tires have the proper amount of air.

  • Check that the bicycle has reflectors and that the lights are working. Lights and reflectors will help drivers and other people see you or your child on the bicycle.

  • Check and repair any loose or damaged parts on the bicycle before you ride it.

Risks for injury:

Bicycle injuries most commonly occur in children 5 to 14 years old. The following may increase the risk for injury:

  • Not following traffic rules, including riding the wrong way or running traffic lights and stop signs

  • Not yielding to a motorist's right of way, or not using hand signals before a turn or stop

  • An extra rider on the handlebars or seat

  • Riding fast and other dangerous activities, such as stunts

  • Road conditions such as uneven or wet roads or roads covered with sticks, rocks, or trash

  • Weather problems such as rain and lightning storms

Prevent injury:

  • Always wear a helmet. Always wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle, even on short trips. Wear a light-colored helmet with a reflective sticker on the back to make it easier for other drivers to see you. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on bicycle helmets.

  • Wear bright, protective clothing and gear. Use elbow or knee pads to help prevent injury. Wear a reflective vest when you ride a bicycle in the dark. Wear bright clothing so that others can see you during the day.

  • Follow traffic rules. Ride with the flow of traffic and use hand signals before you make a turn or stop. Do not ride in high-traffic areas. Ride on lanes provided for bicycles whenever possible.

  • Do not allow anyone to ride on the handlebars or seat with the rider. This is a rule even if the driver is an adult. Children should be secured in seats or carriers made to carry children as passengers on bicycles. The child should also wear a bicycle helmet, even in a carrier. Do not put any child younger than 1 year in a passenger seat.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Always look for obstacles in your path. Be aware of the people and traffic around you. Do not ride too closely to parked cars. You may run into a door if it opens suddenly. Do not listen to music while riding. You may be distracted or not hear cars nearby.

  • Cross the street in a crosswalk. Do not cross in between parked cars. Walk your bicycle across the street.

  • Teach your child about bicycle safety. Before you allow your child to ride a bicycle, teach him about proper bicycle equipment and safety.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

For more information:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington , DC 20590
    Phone: 1- 888 - 327-4236
    Web Address:
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.