I love riding my bike, and so much of my childhood consisted of endless rides, tearing up and down the neighborhood, cruising down to the beach, feeling the wind slap against my face.
Riding my bike represented the ultimate freedom. In a world where I wasn’t old enough to drive, earn money, or really make any serious decisions, the bike provided an invaluable sense of responsibility and accountability.
Yes, times are different now. Back then, I didn’t have a cell phone to worry about. Back then, I wore a helmet (sometimes), but it was more to get my dad off my back then to actually protect my developing brain!
I recently read that up to 9% of accidental bike deaths occur in children. And, of course, that figure doesn’t account for the minor or major injuries that occur on a daily basis. Bike injuries are no joke- I remember when I was younger, and my best friend broke her arm from the tiniest fall.
Naturally, I’ll be terrified of letting my own children ride out in the street with reckless abandon, but it’s a fear I know I’ll need to work through.
The Helmet is Absolutely Required
This will be the first rule I enforce because 1. It’s the law, and 2. It’s just a really easy habit to enforce. With that said, I’ll stand by the adage that everyone in the family needs to wear a properly fitted helmet.
Safe Riding is The Expectation
I’ll be absolutely teaching my children how the roads work. This means understanding four-way stop signs, stop lights, and pedestrian crosswalks. It means learning how vehicle traffic works and how different routes have varying difficulties. We don’t think twice about teaching all these rules when someone is driving, but I think too many of us overlook it when it comes to riding the bike.
Furthermore, I’ll be teaching my children that bike riding is a distraction-free time. As a child, I had my own thoughts to occupy those long rides. Today, as an adult, I’m far from naive to all the distractions readily available to flood a young mind. My children will not be allowed to listen to music or even touch an electronic device. They need to be paying attention to everything on the road, and- for better or worse, never assume that a car driver automatically sees them.
Mom is Happy to Join
Of course, I want my children to experience the limitless freedom that comes with exploring the world on their own. Nothing can quite replace that feeling. With that said, I also want to be a source of good role modeling, of showing them how to safely navigate these streets and roads without fear.
We all know that healthy modeling can create a valuable foundation for growth- I want to be that mom that hops on the bike whenever my kids want a riding partner!