How to teach your child important bicycle skills

OTTAWA INJURY LAWYER  — As Ottawa personal injury lawyers we frequently come across individuals who were injured in car accidents, slip and falls or in a workplace situation, but often the most heartbreaking cases are those that involve injured children.  While we can’t protect our children from every harm, we should do all we can to help prevent situations in which they can get seriously injured.  Bicycle safety is an important area that can help save your child from being unnecessarily injured.  As parents, there are a few simple things you can do to help your child avoid accidents and injuries while riding their bicycle.

While it may seem obvious, teaching your child how to ride in a straight line is very important.  Riding a bicycle can be difficult at first and riding it in a straight line can be even tougher!  Before you let your child ride off with their friends, make sure that you are confident (and so are they) that they can consistently ride in a straight line.  If they can ride in a straight line, they will be better able to stay out of the way of other vehicles and pedestrians.  To teach this to your child, take them to a quiet park or empty parking lot where there is plenty of room and few obstacles.  Stand a short distance away from your child and have them ride towards you in a straight line.  Have them practice this several times, and if you want, you can gradually increase the distance they have to ride to reach you.

Another important skill for you to teach your child is how to turn.  This can be a difficult skill for beginner cyclists so it may take some time for your child to be able to successfully turn while riding their bike.  To teach your child how to effectively turn, take your child to an empty parking lot or cul-de-sac and have them practice riding in a figure-eight pattern.  At first it will be easier for your child to ride in a larger pattern, but over time you can challenge them to make the figure-eights smaller, thus allowing them to practice tighter turns.

Once your child has mastered these basic cycling skills, you can teach them more advanced, but very important, skills such as looking back without swerving.  It is important for cyclists to look behind them before making a left-hand turn, but while doing so, they must continue to ride in a straight line.  You can practice this with your child by once again taking them to an empty parking lot or park and have them ride past you.  As they ride past, hold up a picture of a car or hide the picture behind your back.  Tell them to look back and tell you if they have seen the car.  This exercise will teach your child to look back and assess the situation without swerving.

One last skill you should teach your child is braking control.  It can take time to learn how much pressure to put on the brake and to learn how long it will take to stop before reaching an obstacle.  It can be difficult for a child to judge the distance between themselves and an obstacle and to then break in time.  To practice proper braking techniques with your child, draw a line on your driveway or in an empty parking lot and have your child practice riding towards the line and then stopping right before it.  You can have them approach the line at varying speeds so that they learn how to properly brake in different situations.

Before you let your kids ride their bicycles with their friends outside of your supervision, make sure that they have mastered these few important skills.  By equipping your child with essential bicycle skills, you have done your part to help prevent bicycle accidents and injuries.  Nonetheless, if you or your child has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, you may benefit from speaking with a personal injury lawyer.  An Ontario injury lawyer can assess your case and help you with any legal proceedings you may be able to pursue.  The personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth would be happy to discuss your case with you.

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