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Riding a bike

bike; safety; bicycle; helmet ;

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bike safety sign

Getting a bike is really exciting. At last you can go off and join your mates, you can go places that are too far to walk, you can take yourself round to friends, you can go on bike rides, you can ....
STOP and think for a minute.

 

Getting a bike

Before you go and get that super red racer that you've been saving up for, or driving your parents or carers crazy about, you need to learn some things about bikes.

  • riding a bikeYou need a bike that fits you. Growing into a bike that is too big is not a safe idea.
  • Bikes can break down. You need to learn to look after it.
  • Bikes are vehicles (ve-hik-l-z) just like cars, trucks and all the other transport that uses the roads. You need to learn the rules of the road.
  • Some car drivers don't seem to be able to see bike riders. You need to be easily seen. So wear bright colours or a reflective vest over your clothes.
  • bike helmetBikes can be dangerous. You must wear a helmet to protect your head. Ask your bike shop to help you fit your helmet correctly.
  • You need to keep yourself safe when you're riding a bike. You need to concentrate on what you're doing all the time.

The best way to become a bike rider is to do a Bike Education course, perhaps at your school, or ask at the police station to find out where you can do a course, or look up 'bike safety' on the internet to find which organisation in your part of the world runs Bike Safety courses for kids.

Getting a bike that fits you

New bikes are expensive so it's fine to get a second hand bike so long as you check it out carefully.

  • bike riderA bike that is the right size for you should have about 3 cm space between the crossbar of the frame and yourself when you are standing with both feet on the ground - a bit more for BMX or mountain bikes.
  • Girls have to imagine where a crossbar would be - between the posts for the handlebars and the seat.
  • Handlebars should not be loose and they should have grips that cover the ends properly.
  • The seat should be flat, not move about and shouldn't have any broken springs or tears in the material - that can really hurt!
  • You should be able to sit on the seat and reach the ground with your feet without leaning the bike over.
  • Wheels should have all their spokes, spin easily and have tyres that look pretty new and are pumped up enough so that they feel hard.
  • Every bike has to have a bell or a horn to warn others that you are coming.
  • If you are going to do any riding at night there should be lights on the front and back, and reflectors on the front and back of the pedals and wheels.
  • The bike chain and gears should be clean and oiled and move easily.
  • Brakes must work properly so that when they are on the wheels won't turn.

If you are lucky enough to be getting a new bike the people in the bike store will help you to choose a bike that fits you.

Bikes break down

Ask mum or dad to get a small tool kit together for you so that you have everything you need to keep your bike in good order.

You should always check the chain, wheels and horn (or bell) before you go on your bike.

Learn how to pump up the tyres, how to fix a puncture, how to oil the chain lightly, how to keep your bike clean and work out where you are going to keep it so that it doesn't go rusty.

Bikes are vehicles

cycling
Before you go on public roads you need to know all the rules of the road and especially the ones that are really important for bike riders to know. Get a copy of these rules, learn and practise them carefully to keep yourself safe. Experts say that it is not a good idea for kids under 9 to ride bikes without an adult being with them.

Some people can't see bike riders!

Well of course they could, if they were looking and concentrating as they were going along. BUT you need to make sure that everyone can see you by wearing light bright colours and a bright helmet and KEEP CONCENTRATING, just in case one of these people who can't see bike riders comes your way. Try not to ride your bike at night until you are older as you are much harder to see in the dark.

Bikes can be dangerous

Learn to ride your bike in a safe place away from traffic and other riders until your skills are good enough for you to be able to see what's going on around you.

accidentKids who don't wear helmets and think they're super cool are really super dumb!

Your head is the most important part of your body and is often the first part to hit the ground when you fall off a bike. Wearing a helmet is the smart thing to do and it is the law in Australia.

You can keep yourself safe

If

  • you look after your bike
  • bike ridingstay off the roads until you have great skills
  • wear the right gear
  • learn the road rules and follow them
  • stick to cycle lanes and paths whenever you can
  • stay alert to whatever is happening around you
  • take part in a Bike Education course.

All you have to do now is buy a lock for your bike and lock it away at school and at home to keep your bike safe from people who steal. Make sure that you lock up all parts of your bike that could be taken off easily, like wheels, frame and seat.

Dr Kim says

Dr Kim
"My dad always said that a bike is a great way to get fit. You don't need to have a brand new bike to be able to enjoy bike riding but you always need to look after your bike to keep it working well. Bike riding is lots of fun and great exercise."

Remember there are BMX tracks and clubs for you to go to if you want to learn tricks on your bike. The road is not a safe place to practise cool tricks.

If you are a beginner on bikes, check out http://www.bikestart.com.au

Look at http://www.bikesa.asn.au to find out about courses, events, in fact everything to do with bikes.

The Government of South Australia has a information about the road rules for cyclists in this booklet 'Cycling and the law'.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.

 

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