As a parent, it is natural to have a hard time letting your child go. Regardless of his or her age, it can be difficult to determine whether your child is ready to take the next step toward independence.

For many children, learning how to ride a bike is a major life event. As they grow up, they might start wanting to ride farther from home as part of becoming independent. However, cycling is dangerous in the Los Angeles area. There are a few ways for parents to educate and protect their children this summer.

How to reduce your child’s risk of injury

You can protect the safety of your children while they enjoy cycling by:

  • Emphasizing the importance of helmets: In addition to explaining that the law requires children to wear helmets, you can also explain that helmets have the potential to save lives. However, helmets are not the only safety rule to follow; hand signals, reflectors and other tools are important, too.
  • Setting boundaries: If there are certain areas or routes that you do not want your child to take, be clear about your expectations and the potential consequences. Some routes could impose higher risk, such as roads with heavier traffic. Furthermore, you may choose to limit riding at night when drivers and cyclists have decreased visibility.
  • Helping them maintain their equipment: Children might not notice a flat tire or cracked helmet. It is important for parents to routinely check their child’s bike and safety gear.
  • Ride together: Lead by example. If your child is young or you are concerned about their safety, you can accompany them. Although children may oppose supervision, especially as they reach their teen years, parents may want to ensure that their child is following the law and safety guidelines.

You should also tell your child what to do in an emergency. If a vehicle strikes your child or a friend riding with them, knowing how to get help quickly is critical.

Drivers must be vigilant for young cyclists

Children, due to their size and sometimes unpredictable movement patterns, already face odds against them. When drivers fail to pay attention to where children are around them, they could cause a serious accident.

Drivers must be attentive to the road and nearby cyclists. As you do your part to educate your child about bike safety, drivers must also do their part to prevent a crash.