Learning to ride a bicycle is perhaps one of the most prideful moments in young childhood. Bicycling gives your child a taste of independence -- not to mention that it's fun and a great form of exercise. The average age a child learns to ride a bike can vary as each child gets the hang of handling a two-wheeler at his own speed -- which by the way gets faster with practice.
From Tricycle to Training Wheels
Your child has no doubt been training to ride a bicycle for a few years. Cruising with confidence on a tricycle helped your former preschooler get the hang of steering and pedaling. Many 5-year-olds can cruise around in a small two-wheel bike. Bicycles with training wheels can help improve balance when learning to ride. It's a prideful and memorable day for your child when he can ditch his training wheels.
Oh, What a Feeling
Around age 7 most kids are able to take on the task of riding a larger bicycle now that their muscle coordination and balance are more advanced. Choose a remote area where traffic and other distractions won't interfere with your child's focus. Riding on grass instead of pavement can lower the risk of injury should your child take a tumble. Once your child gets the hang of riding a two-wheeler, ask her to keep her bicycle excursions to the sidewalk. It's safer for children under age 10 to bike on the sidewalk as they aren't yet mature enough to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street, cautions the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Taking It to the Streets
Older kids who seem ready to make the big transition from sidewalk to street should ride their bikes in the same direction as traffic, stay as far to the right as possible and diligently adhere to the rules of the road. It's also important for your child to walk his bike when crossing roads. Distractions that might take a child's mind off the road -- such as listening to music on headphones or using a cellphone -- should be off-limits. Children and adolescents ages 5 to 14 years and young adults up to age 24 make up close to 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries serious enough to require emergency room care, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Suiting Up for Safety
Your young bicyclist should get in the habit of wearing a helmet every time he rides a bike. A properly fitting helmet that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission standards is the most crucial protective gear for bicyclists, explains Healthy Children, a website published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Wearing bright-colored clothing -- like orange or pink -- is more likely to get the attention of motorists, other bicyclists and pedestrians. Wearing tight pant cuffs -- as opposed to bell bottoms and the like -- can help keep your child's clothes from getting caught in the bike chain or tires.
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