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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Biking and Teens
My 24 year old son lives here in Berkeley, rides his bike to work and his various activities, including aikido and grocery shopping and evening events. He refuses to wear a bike helmet and the lights on his bike are often broken/stolen/or not functioning in general. He won't wear reflective clothing either.
I should add that he doesn't live at home, though we see him once a week for dinner at our house. He is very responsible in all other ways. He graduated from college, he has a job, he found his own health insurance, he pays all his own bills. He doesn't own a car, though he is welcome to borrow ours when needed.
I am beside myself with worry over the bike safety issue. I have tried talking to him about it. I offered to buy him a helmet. I have replaced his lights on every holiday you can imagine. I have tried not bringing it up.
Any ideas? My latest thought was mentioning that if he gets seriously hurt, he will wind up living back at home and will lose the independence he values so much.
We have a good relationship except for this. I would love some suggestions. Worrying MOM
Keep buying him lights, since those do get stolen, and encourage him to be visible and follow the rules of the road. But please don't discourage his biking - a car is more dangerous to himself, others, and the environment. Please look at this page to get some perspective on the actual level of risk from cycling: http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm
Finally, unfortunately, a helmet would offer very little protection if he was struck by a car; a human body simply cannot withstand an impact with a large metal object, even with a helmet on its head. A fellow cyclist
I highly recommend that your son get a helmet and high visibility clothing. And, if he does any cycling after dark, a headlight and flashing taillight.
I have done much cycling over the years. I have ridden cross-country, extensively in Canada, and thru many Western and Eastern US states. For the last 20+ years, bicycling has been my main form of transportation to work between Alameda and Berkeley. My point is not to impress, but to point out I've ridden a lot and I'm out there almost everyday. I consider myself a very skilled and highly aware bicyclist.
In my earlier years, I would not even consider a helmet or any kind of fancy equipment. I still think jersies, riding pants, and bike cleats are for dorks or wanna-bes. Maybe your son does, too. Maybe, as I used to, he thinks he's too good of a rider for anything to happen to him.
What changed my mind was riding some 15+ mph down MLK Jr Wy at 530P and having a car door open in front of me with no time to stop, being ejected, landing in the middle of the street, and thereby left at the mercy of the trailing motorists to see me and stop in time to avoid running me over. That, and trip to the ER, the stitches, the 5 weeks off of work, and the permanent facial scars.
Since that day, I have worn a bicycle helmet and made myself as visible as possible when riding. That did not prevent the 2 other times I hit car doors that were carelessly flung open, most recently 3 months ago on Telegraph Ave south of campus, sending me to the ER for X-rays. Nor, the countless times I have had to take evasive action to avoid careless, indifferent, or even spiteful (yes) motorists.
I adapted to a helmet almost immediately. And, other safety equipment (lights, clothing, reflective material) is cheap insurance and quite unobtrusive.
Believe me, things are vastly different today. There are more cars on the road, they drive faster, the motorists are in a much bigger hurry, and they are more distracted (cell phone, DVD, IPod) and/or angry.
Tell your son it can happen to anyone. IT CAN HAPPEN TO HIM. And, in many situations, the most experienced bicylist won't have the skill and/or time to prevent it. Michael
avid cyclistV C Section 21201 Equipment Requirements Equipment Requirements 21201. (a) No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. (b) No person shall operate on the highway a bicycle equipped with handlebars so raised that the operator must elevate his hands above the level of his shoulders in order to grasp the normal steering grip area. (c) No person shall operate upon a highway a bicycle that is of a size that prevents the operator from safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it in a safe manner. (d) A bicycle operated during darkness upon a highway, a sidewalk where bicycle operation is not prohibited by the local jurisdiction, or a bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, shall be equipped with all of the following: (1) A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle. (2) A red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. (3) A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet. (4) A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles that are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors. (e) A lamp or lamp combination, emitting a white light, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle, may be used in lieu of the lamp required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (d). Amended Ch. 723, Stats. 1979. Effective January 1, 1980. Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 232, Stats. 2007. Effective January 1, 2008.
avid cyclistV C Section 21212 Youth Bicycle Helmets Minors Youth Bicycle Helmets: Minors 21212. (a) A person under 18 years of age shall not operate a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard, nor shall they wear in-line or roller skates, nor ride upon a bicycle, a nonmotorized scooter, or a skateboard as a passenger, upon a street, bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, or any other public bicycle path or trail unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards of either the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or standards subsequently established by those entities. This requirement also applies to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat that is attached to the bicycle or in a trailer towed by the bicycle. (b) Any helmet sold or offered for sale for use by operators and passengers of bicycles, nonmotorized scooters, skateboards, or in-line or roller skates shall be conspicuously labeled in accordance with the standard described in subdivision (a) which shall constitute the manufacturer's certification that the helmet conforms to the applicable safety standards. (c) No person shall sell, or offer for sale, for use by an operator or passenger of a bicycle, nonmotorized scooter, skateboard, or in-line or roller skates any safety helmet which is not of a type meeting requirements established by this section. (d) Any charge under this subdivision shall be dismissed when the person charged alleges in court, under oath, that the charge against the person is the first charge against that person under this subdivision, unless it is otherwise established in court that the charge is not the first charge against the person. (e) Except as provided in subdivision (d), a violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars ($25). The parent or legal guardian having control or custody of an unemancipated minor whose conduct violates this section shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for the amount of the fine imposed pursuant to this subdivision. Etc.... . Amended Sec. 6, Ch. 674, Stats. 1996. Effective January 1, 1997. Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 475, Stats. 2002. Effective January 1, 2003.
My son, 15, has grown up in an urban part of Oakland where he can't really ride his bike freely. And he learned to ride late, too, visiting in the country. Now he has two friends, very experienced cyclists, asking him to ride his bike to meet them in Montclair to swim this summer. I completely understand my son's wish to show up on his bike to meet them. But I don't even know how to picture this. He has never ridden his bike in traffic, ever. And to go uphill so far? And to come downhill? I was hoping to find some organized bike rides or groups for him (Sierra Club? Other?)--can anyone recommend anything like that? But he has his heart set on this other plan. Guidelines for saying no? Suggestions for what is appropriate for his age and experience level, and/or how to get him the practice he needs before setting him loose on the roads? And then if these boys also ask him to go on some long bike rides? I am not over-protective and am happy for him to do adventurous independent things with friends. I also don't want him to get hurt on his bike. Willing in Principle But Not in Practice (Yet?)
As a college student, I worked as a bicycle tour leader for younger teens and it was very challenging to get this age kids, who feel immortal, like to take risks, and who don't have the experience of being a driver, to understand road safety. But, a lot can be done to raise awareness, and the independence and physical fitness that comes with being a skilled cyclist is valuable!
A really good resource is the East Bay Bike Coalition, an advocacy group that has lots of safety information and offers classes about biking safely. The Missing Link, a bike shop on Shattuck, also has classes. And the SF Bike Coalition does, too. If your teen is interested in longer rides, checking out a cycling club can be a good idea and then he will have contact with more experienced adult cyclists who can share their skills and experience.
I'm a cyclist and a long-time driver, and one thing I see a lot that concerns me is ill-fitting helmets that would not do their job if the rider fell off the bike and hit their head. A well-fitting helmet is key. This means a somewhat uncomfortably snug chin strap! Also, as uncool as it may seem, brigh colored clothing help with visibility. best to you and your family, Ilene
I am looking for a bicycle safety class (preferably Berkeley and on the weekend for a working mom) for my 14 year old son who just got a road bicycle and he wants to train on it this summer. He is preparing for a 200 mile school bike trip that he will be participating in this fall in high school.He has mostly rode with me in the past but during the summer he will be riding on his own and needs more instruction (my opininon). I have contacted East Bay Bike Coalition and they don't have any classes..nor does Missing Link where we bought the bike. Bike safety conscious mom.
In the end Dave Campbell, the chair of the East Bay Bike Coalition, said that if an adult/parent went to the class with him, my son could attend their safety course. Which is what he did. And I would highly recommend it. He is definitely more savvy about predicting driver behavior and taking precautions. Maybe if enough people express an interest in a teenager course the EBBC will organize one. You can reach Dave Campbell on: firstname.lastname@example.org (note just one ''L'') or 510-701-5971 Good luck. Tracey
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