School is back in session and just like you, your child is a commuter. You may drive your child to school and give them a quick tuck-and-roll drop-off, or they may ride the bus, but some still pedal their way among the throngs of cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists. Or, you may have children who only cycle at home afterschool and on weekends. In either case, we wanted to share with you 5 rules every parent should know when letting their child ride their bike in San Francisco. Children under 14 accounted for 37% of all fatal bicycle accidents in 2015 and San Francisco is still in the top 13 cities in the entire United States for bicycle fatalities with motor vehicle collisions. It is important for parents to be vigilant.
1: Urban Cycling Ends at 6:00pm
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis looks hard at fatal bicycle accidents and tries to find patterns. One that they have found to be consistently true is the spike in bicycle accidents resulting in fatalities between 6:00pm and 9:00pm during any season. If your child has extracurricular activities keeping them out, make sure they are home with their bicycle before 6:00pm. If they have come home and gone out for a ride, the same rule applies.
2: Ride with Traffic
Ride in the same direction as traffic in the bike lane. Use the travel lane (the vehicle lane) when needed to avoid obstacles and always signal your actions with your hands to tell the drivers and other cyclists what you are doing. Children under the age of 13 may ride on the sidewalk in San Francisco (CVC 21560, San Francisco Transportation Code Sec. 7.2.12).
3: Always Wear an Approved Helmet
Cyclists and passengers under the age of 18 must wear an approved helmet. Parents – set a good example, be safe, and wear one, too! Also be sure the helmet is properly fitted. Many children will wear their helmet too far back away from the brow. In addition to a helmet, adding extra reflective gear is beneficial. Elastic straps that go around the ankles with hook-and-eye closures can catch headlights and give extra visibility.
4: No Surround Sound
Headphones may not be in/cover both ears (CVC 27400). Many children like to listen to music while commuting, but they may not have both ears covered while operating a bicycle. A hands-free device is permitted in one ear, but this may cause further distractions if a child tries to answer a phone call while navigating an urban area.
5: Obey the Lights and Signs
Children who have not yet learned to drive often don’t know to stop or yield in the right locations for signs and crosswalks which can potentially lead to bicycle accidents or collisions. When on a bike, operators must obey the same rules as a car, which means they must stop at a stop sign and wait their turn. If your child is commuting on their bicycle, consider riding their route with them a few times to help explain the lights and signs to them. DMV booklets contain road rules and can be picked up free of charge.
Talk to Your Child to Prevent a Bicycle Accident
These are 5 rules we think every parent should know before letting their child ride their bike in San Francisco. In California, the law regarding riding on the sidewalk varies from city to city, but the other rules are beneficial for adults who ride and parents with children who ride throughout California. As bicycle accident attorneys in San Francisco with a second office in Paso Robles, we talk to a lot of parents with concerns after an accident or a close-call who are looking for what they can do to prevent a bicycle accident. In the urban landscape of San Francisco, children need extra help learning about bicycle safety and constant reminders to ride safe. We hope these 5 rules will help you talk to your child about bicycle safety.
If you would like more information about the rules in California, you may download our Ride Safe Reference Guide here. It has these and other rules of the road for bicycle safety in California. And if you would like to talk to one of our bicycle accident attorneys in San Francisco or Paso Robles, contact us for a free consultation today!