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The Informed Parent

Bicycle Safety For All Ages: Infants, Children and Adolescents

by Lori A. Livingston, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Sep. 02, 2013

Bike riding is fun for the whole family. It is great exercise, and an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Even infants can enjoy a ride. So, what do parents need to know about bicycle safety?

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that a young passenger on an adult’s bike makes the bike unstable and increases braking time. There is always a risk of injury at any age. Preferably, a young child, over 12 months old, should ride in a bicycle-towed child trailer.

The bottom line for INFANTS on bikes:

  1. Ride in parks, on bike paths, or quiet streets at reduced speed. Avoid busy roadways.
  2. Children must be over 12 months old to sit well unsupported and may be carried in a child trailer or a rear-mounted bicycle seat.
  3. A rear-mounted seat must have a high back, a sturdy shoulder harness and a lap belt. Spoke guards on the rear wheel are needed to prevent feet and hands from being caught.
  4. A lightweight infant bike helmet should always be worn to prevent head injury.
  5. Remember, even with all the appropriate gear, the risk of serious injury still exists when you carry a young child on or behind a bicycle.

The bottom line for CHILDREN/ADOLESCENTS:

  1. Young children should ride only with adult supervision and off the street.
  2. Older children maybe allowed to ride in the street depending on traffic, maturity, skill in riding, and knowledge of the Rules of the Road.
  3. Children must have a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and wear it properly on every ride, even in the driveway of your home.
  4. Children should never ride at dusk or in the dark.
  5. Children should have training in bicycle riding and the Rules of the Road.
  6. A bicycle of the wrong size may cause your child to lose control and be injured.
  7. Most children can ride a 2-wheeled bike at about age 5 or 6.
  8. Set a good example…adults should also wear a helmet and follow the Rules of the Road.


  1. Use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  2. Look both ways at street corners and driveways.
  3. Always ride with the traffic, to the right.
  4. Always stop at Stop signs and the curb.
  5. When you ride on the sidewalk, watch out for people.
  6. Riders must always wear their helmet.

For more information. See the American Academy of Pediatrics website:

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