As a father to three bike-crazy boys, this post from Crispin Jones piqued my interest as one that was worth sharing with you all in this new year. It is a departure from my usual topics, but important, worth while,and near to my heart.
Let's keep our kiddos safe out there folks so they get all the years of cycling joy they have coming to them! Thanks, Crispin! Readers: enjoy...
As the nights start to draw in earlier, many children will find themselves cycling home from school in the dusk. It's important for any cyclist to ensure that they are safe and can be seen when it gets darker, so there's a wide range of protective gear available to ensure your kids are safe on the road. Here are some practical but fun ideas worth considering.
A bike helmet is a must for cycling at any time of day, but it's even more important to protect your head when cycling in the dark. There are lots of styles and colours of bike helmets to choose from, but the important feature is that the helmet should be a good fit and sturdy. Old helmets that have taken a few knocks and scuffs will need replacing and won't give your kids the protection they need. For the fun element, get a helmet in a cool design such as a dinosaur shape or with funky colours, motives, spots or favourite characters.
High visibility vests
If your child is going to be cycling in the dark then a high visibility vest is a real must to ensure they are clearly seen by other road users.
As well as luminous yellow, the vests come in bright pink, which will appeal to girls. You can also get high visibility bomber jackets, which will keep your kids warm on colder days, as well as reflective armbands, leg bands or strips that go across your body. Reflective covers that fasten over a child's bag on their back are also a good idea.
Riding your bike in the dark without any lights on it is not only foolish but it's illegal too, so make sure that your child has working front and back lights that clip onto their bike, as well as reflectors. Lights for bikes vary enormously, from the very cheap to more expensive. Always go for high quality lights, as you can't put a price on your child's safety.
Some lights have different settings, where the light is on permanently or flashing mode. You can also get LED lights that go around the wheels, which are pretty funky. There are also LED lights in the shape of aliens or other characters that fit to the valve stem of the bike tyre, and light up when you move - which makes cycling in the dark a real buzz!
Other lights can be fitted to the bike helmet. Whichever you choose, make sure that you have spare sets of batteries and always replace them when they start to run low.
Some bikes are powered by dynamo lights, which have the advantage that you create the power when pedalling, so you aren't reliant on batteries. However, be aware that once you stop at a traffic light, the dynamo light will stop too - so choose a dynamo light that has a back up power for these instances.
In addition to the above, get your child some fun, reflective stickers that can be placed on their bike or helmet, to increase their visibility when it gets dark. Choose from smiley faces, to funky flowers, rocket shapes, animals, etc. They come in a range of colours that reflect in the dark.
Make sure your child's bike has a bell on it, so that they can alert road users or pedestrians of their presence, if needs be. There are tons of bike bells around, so pick something with a fun design or shape, or with your child's favourite character on it.
This post was written by Crispin Jones on behalf of 50 Cycles – the UK’s leading supplier of quality electric bikes. Follow them on twitter for more information.