Are We Ready To Get Back To School?

Even though most of us are not ready to give up the sweet summer days yet, next week will be the start of many schools in the country. In California, we are lucky because the sunny and warm days last longer almost until December. After that, it gets a little bit breezy, rains some days but it's never like the regular cold and snowy winters like everywhere else. So, we get to enjoy outdoor activities for most of the year.It gets even better: If you're living in a mild climate like ours, and if your school is close to your home, you can ride your bike, skateboard or scooter to school every day. It's the best commute you can get with two benefits at once: 1) You get to exercise, 2) You'll get there faster than walking... See, win-win! 

Here are some tips for your safety before you take off though:

  • Ensure the tires are pumped up to their proper pressure.
  • Check for glass, splits, bulges, or excessive wear in the tires.
  • Make sure the brakes are working and replace any worn brake pads and clean the wheel rims.
  • Make sure the reflector on the back is clean so it can be seen.

And here are some precautions that parents should consider:

  • Check that the drivetrain is clean and lubricated.
  • The chain should not be black with greasy grime, nor should it look ultra-shiny. Chains and gears last longer if they are clean but lightly oiled.  
  • If it’s dirty, get rags and run the chain through your hand while clutching the rag to get the dirt off. If it’s REALLY dirty, put turpentine on the rag to help remove the grime, and use a toothbrush to get into the links.
  • Once it’s clean, get some light oil (from a bike shop, or substitute sewing machine oil), and put one small drop on each link.
  • If you’re not mechanically minded, take the bike to a cycle shop for service, but give it a good clean with soapy water and a sponge first. 

It seems that many children do much of their growth over the summer break, which means seat heights may need adjustments for safety, comfort, and ease of pedaling. 

  • Make sure your child can just put the tip of their toes on the ground while on the seat and that when standing over the crossbar with feet flat, there are a few inches to spare. 
  • If you do raise the seat, check the seat post is not extended past its maximum height. If it is, you need to buy a bigger bike!
  • Heads grow as well as legs, so make sure your child’s helmet still fits and is in good shape. If it’s cracked, or the straps are not working properly, if it’s too loose or too tight, get another helmet. Spending a bit of money here is worth its weight in gold and may save your kid’s life! Having said that, don't forget to check our helmets and visors cause they may be just what you need. 
  • If your child has changed schools, spend time working out a safe route early on
  • Drive the school route with your kids in the car before their first day. 
  • If you’re smart, even in a busy city, you can usually work out a route that has very little traffic by favoring back streets and bike paths.
  • Wherever you can, avoid roads where the speed limit is more than 50km per hour.  

Make sure your child wears a bright backpack

  • It doesn’t matter what color, but brown, grey, and black are harder for motorists to see.

Thanks to Prof. S. Stannard for these valuable tips