Bicycle & Wheel Sport Safety

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Bicycling, in-line skating, and other wheeled activities are great ways to get exercise, get around, or just have fun. This page provides the information you should know to stay safe while on your ride.

Key Takeaways:

  • Wear an appropriate helmet that fits.
  • Wear light colored or reflective clothing, especially at dawn or dusk.
  • Before you go, check your equipment.
  • Pay attention. Don’t text or wear headphones or earbuds.
  • Follow the rules of the road and stop at all intersections and crosswalks.

NYS Law requires all children under the age of 14 to wear approved helmets when bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, or scooter riding. Parents could face a $50 fine if their child is riding without a helmet.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI or concussion) is an injury to the brain or skull caused by an external force, such as a strike or impact. When the head hits the ground or an object, the brain crashes against the skull, bruising and damaging delicate brain tissue. TBIs can result in lifelong changes in the way you think, act, feel, and move. Wearing a helmet absorbs the shock of the impact, and can protect your brain and skull.

Multi-sport helmets can be used for a variety of sports and offer more protection to the back of the head. Motorcycle and snowmobile helmets should not be used with bicycles, skates, skateboards, or scooters because they can affect balance, vision, and could cause a fall.

Wear the right gear for the right activity to avoid injury:

Gear Bicycling In-line Skating Scootering Skateboarding
Helmet X X X X
Sneakers/closed toe shoes X X X
Elbow and knee pads X X X
Wrist guards or special gloves X X
Padded jackets and shorts X
Hip pads X

Be sure that padding is not too tight where it could restrict movement or too loose where it could move.

Make sure your helmet fits

When fitted properly, bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by 85 percent and traumatic brain injuries by 88 percent.

Choose a helmet that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) helmet standard. Look for the CPSC sticker to ensure that it is approved.

  1. Helmets should fit snuggly, and be level and stable on your head.
  2. Helmets should fit two finger widths above your eyebrow.
  3. Straps should form a ‘V’ under each earlobe, prior to buckling them.
  4. Straps should be tightened to allow no more than two fingers between the strap and your chin.

Bicycle-related incidents are the number one cause of head injuries in children in New York State. NYS Law requires all children under the age of 14 to wear approved helmets when bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, or scooter riding. Parents could face a $50 fine if their child is riding without a helmet. Helmets are often labeled by age or head measurement, so use these only as a guideline when choosing an appropriate helmet for your children. Your child should try on helmets. You may need to adjust to ensure proper fit.

Kids over age one can ride in carriers, but infants under age one are not allowed to ride in carriers attached to or towed behind the bike.

Children under the age of four should not ride at dusk or night. It is hard for them to see hazards, and for other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to see them.

Children under the age of nine should ride on the sidewalk or on bicycle baths separated from motor vehicle traffic. They should not ride their bicycles in the street because they do not have enough experience and handling skills to navigate safely around other traffic.

Anytime you take your bike out for a ride, you should first check that your bicycle is in good working order. Make sure:

  • Tires have adequate air
  • Brakes are in good working order
  • Chain is well-oiled and secure
  • Bike has a working headlight and a rear reflector (not needed on bikes for children under 5 years old)

Bicyclists and in-line skaters

  • You are considered traffic. Follow the rules of the road. Always go with the flow and direction of traffic. Ride single file.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals. Use hand signals for all turns and stops.
  • Stop at intersections and crosswalks. Yield the right-of–way to pedestrians, in-line skaters or those riding skateboards and nonmotorized scooters when appropriate.
  • One person per bicycle seat only.
  • When riding on shared pathways, be respectful of others.
  • Use a horn, bell, and bike lights.
  • Don’t text or wear headphones or earbuds while riding and gliding.

Skateboarders and scooter riders

  • Ride on smooth, dry, paved surfaces that are safe, such as parks, paved trails, or schoolyards. Stay away from cars or other vehicles. Riding in the road with traffic is not allowed.
  • Carry your skateboard or get off your scooter when crossing the street. Come to a complete stop before crossing. Look left, right, and left again before entering the roadway.
  • Be respectful of others if riding on the sidewalk.
  • Don’t text or wear headphones or earbuds while riding.
  • Educate caregivers that bicycles, in-line skates, nonmotorized scooters and skateboards are not toys. Stress the importance of wearing safety helmets to prevent head injuries as well as other physical injuries.
  • Explain that New York State Law requires all children under 14 to wear approved bicycle or multi-sport helmets while engaging in the above activities.
  • Encourage use of bicycle helmets. Let caregivers know that if they wear a helmet when riding, their children will be more likely to wear one, too.
  • Encourage the use of helmets from the time children learn to ride their first bicycle, scooter, skateboard or in-line skates.
  • Speak directly to children about the importance of protecting their heads and how helmets help to keep them safe.
  • Make caregivers aware of the importance of insisting that their children wear their helmets every time they ride their bikes, scooters, skateboards or in-line skates.
  • Work with pediatricians, family practice physicians, and other providers to educate their families about bicycle safety.

View our wheeled recreation safety publications that are available for order.