Safe Bicycling for Kids: What Every Parent Should Know

Attorneys at Our Firm

The Chicago bicycle collision attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. represent the family members of children that were injured or killed in a biking accident. According to CyberDriveIllinois.com, children pedalcyclists, under the age of 16 that were involved in motor vehicle crashes, accounted for 19% of injuries, and 10% of fatalities, in 2011. These incidence rates are astounding, given that children, age 16 and younger, represent a very small percentage of all bicyclists. Moreover, when factoring other means of transportation that are similar to bicycling, such as skateboards, rollerblades, and non-motorized scooters, in which the victim is generally classified as a pedestrian, the accident rates for children are even more alarming.

Recently, the injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. discussed bike safety amongst children in Assessing Age Appropriateness for Unaccompanied Child Bicyclists. Expanding on this topic, it is important that parents understand that conveying notions of safe bicycling upon children, requires that the child also be able to adequately comprehend the genuine dangers that surround them. In example, how many times have you told your child that if they do X, then Y will happen—and what did they do?—they did X. However, the risks involved with bicycling Chicago’s busy roadways can be far worse than other types of ‘If X, then Y’ scenarios. Consider showing your child the consequences of bicycling accidents through using real-life examples in the media, and particularly incidents where a child was injured or killed even though they were riding in a safe manner. Make sure they recognize just how dangerous it is for children, and adults too, to bike in our city.

Furthermore, while properly educating your child in a kid-friendly manner, such that your child is sufficiently aware of the risks of biking in Chicago is a good starting point, parents should not assume that a child will heed such warnings and consistently abide by the rules. In fact, most parents might agree that children, by nature, are rule-breakers. Why? Because they are children—it’s the reason why we have a juvenile criminal system and a separate one for adults---it’s also likely the reason why the portion of Illinois’ Vehicle Code regarding parental liability for a minor’s violation of a provision of the bicycling code, uses the language ‘authorize’ or ‘knowingly allow,’ as opposed to a strict liability approach.

So then, what can parents do beyond adhering to basic principles of responsible parenting, to aide in the prevention of injury or death caused as a result of a bicycling crash? Well, certainly parents can’t follow their child around until they turn 18. However, parents do have years to prepare the child, prior to allowing them to travel unaccompanied. Also, following releasing the child to bicycle without supervision, parents can take measures to ensure that the child is practicing safe bicycling. In sum, monitor the child’s biking habits as you travel with them, and then AGAIN after you allow them to travel alone. In other words—YES, follow them—at least for the initial period following the child’s transition to unsupervised travel—and perhaps even periodically in the future. Parents might also consider installing a mobile app on their child’s cell phone to track the child’s location, which can be particularly important if the child is bicycling in dangerous or high-traffic area, or otherwise biking where they are not supposed to be.

Our team of bike injury attorneys hope that parents will take advantage of the many resources available that can help keep your child safe as they navigate a bicycle on Chicago’s busy roadways. In the unfortunate event a bicycling accident does occur, the lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. urge you to contact our law office, at 773-516-4100, to schedule a FREE personal injury consultation, and allow us to explain your legal rights of entitlement to compensation.

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