Bike Safety for Your Family


Summer is in full swing and that means it’s bicycling time for my family.  And now that my kids are getting older and shedding their training wheels, I have a lot more options for riding around town.  Since we will be hitting new trails with more bike and pedestrian traffic I figured it would be good to go over some bike safety with the kiddos.  First and foremost I wanted to find out for sure about the bicycle helmet use law in Iowa.

True or False – The State of Iowa has a bicycle helmet use law in place.

FALSE.  Iowa is one of 29 states across the country that doesn’t have any bicycle helmet use laws in place.



I have to admit, at first I had mixed feelings about bicycle helmets.  I rode around all the time as a child with no helmet and I survived without any head injuries (lots of skinned up knees).  But, being the over protective parent I am, I went ahead and purchased the kids helmets when I we got their bikes.  Did I buy one for myself?  No.  Does my daughter ask me every time we go biking where my helmet is?  Yes.  Will I be buying one for myself and setting a good example.  Yes.  Because yes fellow parents, we must practice what we preach.  Even if that means I have to wear a helmet or suck down vegetables at dinner time (I wouldn’t eat veggies if I didn’t have kids).

After some research on some bicycle safety here are the tips I will be passing on to my kiddos.

Safety Tips

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Ride on the right. Ride in the right lane, except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn, or avoiding hazards.
  • Never ride against traffic. Always ride with the flow of traffic.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals. Use hand signals to advise motorists you plan to turn, change lanes or stop.
  • Make eye contact with motorists. Never assume a motorist sees you or that you have the right-of-way. Expect the unexpected such as: parked vehicles pulling into traffic; vehicle doors opening into your path; and debris on the road.
  • At night use a headlight, taillight and reflectors.
  • Yield to pedestrians and skaters.
  • Give audible warning when passing other trail users. A friendly greeting like, “Hello, passing on your left,” or ringing a bell is considerate.
  • Ride at a safe speed. Slow down and form a single file in congested areas, reduced visibility or other hazardous conditions.

The Iowa Dept of Transportation also has some great free bicycling educational resources (videos, stickers, etc) you can order.  Click here for more info.

Thomas Brogan

Thomas Brogan, a native of Des Moines, was the original founder of Des Moines Parent and is a father to an 8 & 10-year-old. In his free time, he likes to explore nature, try new local restaurants and enjoy life as best as he can. Check out more of Thomas at www.broganlist.com.

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