Bicycle Safety

Riding a bicycle is a great way for children to have fun and to exercise. However, the joy of bicycling can quickly turn into a tragedy. Every year in the United States, thousands of children are treated in emergency departments for bicycle-related injuries. Many of these injuries can be prevented if children follow bicycle safety rules and wear helmets. Therefore, before children take off on their bicycles this summer, it is important to teach them a few tips that can prevent injuries and save lives.

Bicycle-Related Injury Facts

  • More than 220,000 children younger than 19 years of age are treated in U.S. emergency departments every year for bicycle-related injuries. That's more than 600 each day or 25 every hour.
  • The most common injuries are scrapes and bruises, cuts, and broken bones.
  • Even though the arms and legs are injured the most, head injuries are the most serious and cause the most deaths
  • Among bicycle riders killed in a crash where helmet use was known, more than 3/4 of bicyclists were not wearing a helmet.

Who is at Risk?

  • Boys are more likely to be injured while riding bicycles than girls.
  • Most of the injuries occur to children ages 5-14 years.
  • Older children ages 15-18 years are injured less, but their injuries are usually more serious. These teens are 4 times more likely to die from a bicycle-related injury than younger children.
  • Most injuries occur on the street.

Prevention Tips

  • Always wear a helmet. Everyone on a bike of any type needs to wear a helmet on every ride. For tips on choosing and fitting a helmet, click here.
  • Ride with traffic. Stay to the right. Do not swerve into traffic.
  • Follow all traffic signs. Stop at red lights and stop signs.
  • Use hand signals to let car drivers know what you plan to do.
  • Walk the bicycle across busy streets and intersections. Look left, right, and left again before crossing.
  • Ride only if it is sunny and dry. Riding at dusk, when it is dark or when it is raining can be dangerous.
  • Children younger than 1 year of age should not be passengers on bicycles. Their neck muscles may not be strong enough to control head movement during a sudden stop, especially with the added weight of a helmet.
  • Children younger than 10 years should ride on a sidewalk or bicycle path instead of the street. Most young children are unable to make safe choices in traffic situations.
  • Make sure the seat and handlebars of the bicycle fit your child.
  • Know a child’s limits. Tell your child where he or she can ride.

Additional Bicycle Safety Resources

  • Bicycle-related injuries among children treated in US emergency departments, 2006-2015
  • Mountain biking-related injuries treated in emergency departments in the United States, 1994-2007
  • Bicycle-related injuries among children and adolescents in the United States
  • Bicycle-related injuries to children and parental attitudes regarding bicycle safety