Get a bike from Santa? Learn safety rules

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Many area children found new bicycles among their Christmasgifts this year, but with that particular present comes a greatdeal of responsibility, authorities advise.

“We realize that Christmas just passed, and there’s a lot morebicycles in town,” said Brookhaven Police Chief Arlustra “Pap”Henderson. “We really want parents to supervise their children whenthey’re out riding.”

Henderson and other officials agree bicycles should be treatedwith caution.

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“Some may think that because they’re on bicycles they don’t haveto follow the rules that apply to motorists in lanes of motorvehicle traffic. Actually, just the opposite is true,” said Dr.Billy White Jr., executive director of the Mississippi Division ofPublic Safety Planning.

He said that bicyclists should ride on the right side of theroadway and travel in the same direction as motor vehicles.

All roadway signs, including stop signs and one-way signs,should be obeyed when riding a bicycle, White said.

“The bicycles need to be well-lighted with reflectors, andpeople should not be riding after dark,” Lincoln County SheriffLynn Boyte said.

Authorities said many accidents can be prevented with a shortexplanation of safety rules from parents to children.

Children often do not understand common safety rules, such asstopping at intersections, so parents should explain the importanceof knowing the laws, Henderson said.

“They need to take a little time to talk to their kids aboutsafety,” he said. “If they don’t have enough time, they can callme.”

Helmets with snug chin straps should always be worn when ridinga bicycle, said Boyte. Rules apply to all age groups, especiallychildren because they are more vulnerable, he said.

Knee and elbow pads can also be helpful in preventing injury, headded.

Boyte pointed out that the best way to prevent an accidentinvolving a bicycle and motor vehicle would be to keep bicycles offroadways.

“Bicycles should be treated like four-wheelers and kept off thepublic roads,” he said. “If they don’t have anywhere to ride, theyshould ride in an area where traffic is limited, like a park.”

Accidents can also be prevented with the assistance ofmotorists, who can keep a watchful eye for bicyclists on roadways,authorities said.

“Motorists need to be on the look out and be aware of kidsriding their bicycles, especially the smaller ones because they canbe harder to see,” Henderson added.

Bicyclists can also be equipped with the knowledge of properturn signals, such as putting left arm out to turn left and raisingleft arm in a 90 degree angle to turn right.

“Taking safety steps is the best way to ensure that yourbicycling fun and exercise are not marred by a tragedy such asbeing hit by a motor vehicle,” White said.