Do you have a little cyclist at home who wants to ride a bike or even a scooter? In addition to choosing the right bicycle helmet, you need to teach him or her how to behave when cycling. What are the rules for children? And how to choose and use a bicycle helmet correctly?
Young cyclists under the age of 10 may ride unaccompanied only on sidewalks, bike paths and in residential and pedestrian areas. However, if they wish to ride on roads or local and dedicated roads, they may only do so accompanied by a person over 15 years of age. On roads, they must ride in the cycle lane and, where there is no dedicated lane for cyclists, on the right-hand edge of the road, if they do not endanger or restrict pedestrians.
You are not allowed to ride two on one bicycle. However, if the bicycle is fitted with a child bike seat with fixed footrests, a person over 15 years of age may carry a child under seven years of age. “Do not forget that young and adult cyclists must not ride without holding the handlebars, hold on to another vehicle, lead another bicycle, a dog or other animal, carry objects that would make driving difficult or endanger other road users,” says Eduarda Hekšová, director of the consumer organisation dTest, adding: “They must also keep their feet on the pedals when driving and use a white front light and a red rear light, which may be intermittent, in low visibility.”
All young or teenage cyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a cycle helmet when cycling and have it properly fitted to their head. The same rules apply when riding a scooter.
How to choose the right bicycle helmet? “The most important rule when choosing one is to try it on in person. Preferably directly in the shop, or you can use the 14-day return period if you order a helmet online and then find it doesn’t fit,” says Eduarda Hekšová. So what should you focus on when choosing and trying on a helmet?
Weight: the lighter the helmet, the more comfortable it is for the cyclist. If you are getting a helmet for a child, make sure it is not too heavy so that it does not put excessive strain on the cervical spine.
Size: is given as the circumference of the head in centimetres, or in letters S – XXL. However, most helmets are equipped with a tightening mechanism that can be used to adjust the inner circumference of the helmet to the head within a range of a few centimetres. Do not buy a larger helmet for children. The price of being able to wear it longer is a significant reduction in protection. It is important that the helmet always fits well on the head. Even with a tightening mechanism, not every model may fit the shape of the head. So it is better to try several different brands to find a helmet that fits perfectly.
Fastening: adjusting the length of the chin strap and adjusting the helmet size around the circumference are important features. Most chin straps can be adjusted in length, but some helmets already have a new system (Trifix) that does not need to be adjusted. The circumferential tightening system, which adjusts the size of the helmet, is most often operated by a rotary ring on the top of the head – when you turn to one side, the helmet tightens and vice versa. However, you may also find other control options. The buckle that fastens the chin strap should be easy to unfasten and also operate with one hand.
Cushioning: ensures that the helmet is comfortable to wear. It is advantageous when spare pads are supplied with the helmet, as the soft padding is easily destroyed, especially by sweat.
Ventilation: Most bike helmets have vents to reduce head sweating and increase user comfort. Logically, it may seem that the more vents in a helmet’s construction, the more fragile and less secure it is. However, in crash tests, this has been shown not to be universally true. In any case, it’s handy if the holes in the front of the helmet are covered with insect netting.
The visor: should be removable and not obstruct vision. “This is usually a feature of helmets designed for off-road riding or leisure helmets. Its purpose is not only to protect from the sun’s rays, but also, for example, from branches, flying stones and other dangerous objects,” explains Eduarda Hekšová.
Reflective materials: should be on every helmet, and especially on helmets designed for road riding, because in today’s heavy traffic, any visibility is an advantage.