If you are buying new bikes for your children this Christmas don’t forget to make sure you buy them a helmet too.
That is the advice from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, which pointed to the 19,000 people in 2012 slightly injured, seriously injured or killed in reported road accidents involving bikes.
Of these almost 2,200 were children: in 2012 a total of 13 children died, 311 were seriously injured and 1,874 suffered slight injuries during a road accident with a bike nationally.
The fire service had some tips for getting your kids on two wheels and keeping them safe.
A spokesperson for ESFRS said: “It is worth taking the advice of a reputable cycle shop to make sure that [the helmet] fits and is well adjusted.
“Parents should set a good example and wear a helmet too.
“If your children are skilled and confident enough to ride on the road with or without you, make sure that they have high visibility clothing – fluorescent for daytime and reflective after dark – and lights fitted to their bike.”
The fire service’s other essential tips for a safe introduction to cycling included:
• Go off road – there are plenty of safe places away from roads for your child to practice cycling for the first time, including local parks, pathways and gardens. Grass can provide a good soft landing on those early rides.
• Bike safety checks – teach your child to check their bicycle for brake and tyre defects or other damage and, if you can, how to fix them.
• Learn road skills – older children aged 11 and above will be more independent and may want to ride to school. There’s a lot to learn before taking to the road and parents should consider the nationally-recognised Bikeability scheme.
ESFRS said at Bikeability Level 2, children should be able to demonstrate the skills and understanding to be able to make a trip safely to school, work or leisure on quiet roads.
Further information about cycling and cycle safety is available from Sustrans, the organisation that supports sustainable transport and East Sussex County Council.
According to figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more than 19,000 people are killed or injured in reported road accidents involving bicycles. Almost a quarter of these are children.