Tips for when children travel by bicycle
Bicycles are the perfect way to get around the city. They do not pollute, they avoid traffic jams, riders exercise and both adults and children enjoy riding them.
Whether they are traveling as passengers or riding the bicycle themselves, it is important that both parents and children follow a series of recommendations so that they move around safely on their bike. We must consider that a bicycle is not just a toy but a means of transport:
When riding as a passenger
Of course, it is important that the bicycle is in good condition: brakes, wheels, lights, etc.
As for safety equipment, all children riding as passengers must wear a helmet. Adults do not have to wear a helmet on urban roads. We do however recommend that they use one even when on these roads. On the one hand, they are more protected and, on the other, they set an example and motivate children to do the same.
Furthermore, they should use reflective elements and lights so that they are more visible to other road users, and they should wear bright clothing.
Bear in mind that an adult (over 18 years old) can only carry a child as a passenger if they are under 7 years of age. Children must ride on an approved additional seat, according to the UNE-EN 14344:2005 standard. These seats have a backrest, a harness and footrests. We must make sure the seat is properly attached to the bicycle. Seats at the back are the most common and are attached above the luggage rack. There are also front seats that attach to the bar between the saddle and the handlebars.
There are also small trailers for bicycles, although these are not expressly regulated. On urban roads, the regulations state that municipal rules must be complied with. Therefore, it is down to the particular town hall where you live to decide whether or not this type of trailer can be used. On interurban roads the use of trailers for transporting people is not permitted.
When the child is riding the bicycle
It is very important to teach children the main safety precautions when riding a bicycle, as well as road traffic rules. Bear in mind that, at first, parents ride with their children and teach them how to use the bicycle, but a time will come when they will be able to ride on their own and use it as their means of transport. It is therefore important to teach them a set of rules from the beginning so they become ingrained.
Helmets should be used at all times and especially when learning to ride a bicycle, whether they are using stabilizers or riding on two wheels. Remember that in Spain it is compulsory to wear a helmet on interurban roads. Helmets must also be worn in cities if the child is under 16. Whether in this age range or not, we need to remember that a helmet protects the rider and, therefore, we recommend using one at all times.
Lights, safety vests and reflective elements, bright colors – everything counts towards making the cyclist more visible to other road users.
Young children must ride on the sidewalks and always with a parent and/or guardian. Other cyclists should use bike lanes whenever possible. Please remember that only young children can ride on sidewalks. It is dangerous for pedestrians and the cyclist themselves.
If there is no bicycle lane, they must ride on the road. When cyclists ride on the road, they must respect all the road traffic rules as they are a vehicle, too. It is essential to respect priorities at crossroads (give way and stop), pedestrian crossings (you should always get off your bike when crossing and give way to pedestrians), traffic lights and one way signs. Always look carefully before turning and signal before doing so.
Caution should also be exercised with parked cars, as a door may open at any time and cyclists, due to their size, are not very visible.
Obviously avoid distractions: you must not use your mobile phone or wear earphones while riding a bicycle as you will not hear other vehicles, which is very dangerous.
If riding at night time, you must have reflectors on different parts of the bicycle that reflect the light from a cars’ headlights. The least you need is a red reflector at the back, two orange side reflectors on the wheels and one white reflector at the front.
As well as reflectors, cyclists must also use lights. A red one at the back and a white one at the front. The light can be fixed or flashing, but must be turned on. Nowadays with LED lighting systems, bicycle light batteries last longer and are also rechargeable.