For children, learning to ride a bike is great fun, as well as an important first step on the road to freedom. However, cycling can be dangerous so parents need to pay attention to quite a number of things when kids first start riding a bicycle.

One very important thing is to make sure the bicycle is the right size for the rider. Do not allow your child to use a bicycle meant for an older child. When choosing a bicycle, seat the child on the machine and check to make sure his or her feet can easily reach the ground. A significantly oversized bicycle will be more difficult for a youngster, especially a rookie rider, to steer and may result in an accident.

Cycle helmets are absolutely essential. Even a minor accident could result in a serious head injury. Therefore you must drill into children that they must never go off on their bikes without a helmet.

One of the main reasons children like riding bikes is it enables them to go off and play with their friends. This is fine, because it encourages independence, but at the same time you must set ground rules. A child aged under 10 should not be allowed to ride unaccompanied on a public highway. You must insist children in this younger age group always ride on sidewalks or dedicated cycle paths.

Older children and teenagers may be permitted to ride their bikes on the highway, but they must first be taught the rules of road usage. It is vital they understand about traffic and how to ride in it safely, even on roads where there may be very few vehicles around. In addition, a child going cycling on a public road must wear high visibility clothing of some sort, and the bike equipped with suitable lights and reflectors. Furthermore there should be a cut off time. Do not allow children to cycle on the road after dark.