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The Basics: Bicycles and Helmets

Bicycling can be fun and recreational, but is also a form of transportation. It is important to educate children and adults on the importance of bicycle safety techniques and the proper use of a bicycle helmet.
It is important to choose a bike that is an appropriate size for your child. Getting a bike that is bigger so the child can "grow into it" is not easy to learn on or to ride safely.

How to Fit a Bike:

  • May your arm along the top bar with the elbow touching the seat. The finger tips should just reach the handlebars.
  • Straddle the bike. There should be about one inch between the top bar and your crotch.
  • Adjust the seat so you can sit on the seat and balance on your toes.

A child should be able to sit on the seat with hands on the handlebars and be able to balance on the balls of the feet. When they are seated, the legs should be almost fully extended when the ball of the foot is on the pedal at the bottom of the pedal stoke. The child should be able to straddle the bike with at least one or two inches between the top bar and the child's crotch.

Bicycle helmets should always be worn when riding a bike. All bicycle riders and passengers under 12 years of age are required to wear an approved helmet. It is important to select a correctly sized helmet for your child.

View Diagram: How to Fit a Helmet


  • Every new helmet should be labeled that it meets the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC). Older helmets may state that it meets ANSI, ASTM or Snell standards.
  • Use the foam pads or adjust the fitting ring, following the manufacturer's instructions, to fit the helmet so it does not move on the head.
  • The front of the helmet should rest two finger widths above the eyebrows.
  • The side straps should be adjusted so they meet in a "V" under each ear.
  • Adjust the chin strap tight enough under the chin so that the helmet pulls down when the child opens their mouth

The below video is a brief overview by the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency on how to properly fit your bicycle helmet


For a guide to buying a bike helmet for your child, or detailed bicycle helmet information, please follow this link to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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