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FHWA bicycle safety education resource center

Children & Teens : teenage cyclists 13-17

Cycling with more independence carries with it what can feel like a burden of greater responsibility. Cyclists hitting their teenage years are probably ready to cycle further and faster- they may be exploring bike racing, touring, or trail riding. But even though the teenage cyclist's skills and interests may have changed dramatically, they should be reminded that the rules of the road remain the same.

A great lesson for the teenage cyclist is to learn to treat his or her newfound responsibility and freedom as a privilege, rather than a hindrance. Risky behaviors put cyclists at the mercy of motor vehicles; teen cyclists should by all means enjoy the ride, but always keep their movements visible and predictable.

tools and skills
  learn about important safety information. more   learn the fundamentals of good bicycling. more   view an extensive list of resources on the web. more


A bike is no match for a 2-5,000 pound vehicle. Most teenagers will learn to drive a car and get their driver's license. When they do, it's important they don't forget what it's like to be a cyclist. Emphasize that cyclists in this age group shouldn't let the newfound freedom of driving get in the way of common sense; to avoid injury or worse, it's vital that as a motorist and as a cyclist, they should act safely and share the road.

tools and skills
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Tools and Skills

Teach the teenage cyclist to continue to work on good riding skills- performing panic stops, riding in the winter and in inclement weather.
Teach teen cyclists about off road and trail bicycling.
Teach this age group the most important traffic laws for bicyclists. Explain different crashes- typical scenarios and crash types, and how to steer clear of them.
Although it's not recommended for anyone to ride at night, show teenage cyclists how to be prepared if they ever do:

  Use proper lights. Blinking red brake lights are better than stationary ones. A bright white headlight is highly recommended and even required in some states.
  Wear light and/or reflective clothing: reflectors can be worn on ankles, reflective stickers can be affixed to bags or backpacks, for instance.
Emphasize the importance of wearing a helmet. Although helmets might not have seemed so dorky when they were younger, teenagers are likely to be tempted not to wear helmets. Tell them to think about how uncool brain damage is. Wearing a good-fitting helmet properly reduces a cyclist's risk of major injury and/or fatality by as much as 88%.
Explain that it is extremely useful and wise to brush up on bicycling safety fundamentals (look back to our earlier sections) when a teenager move to a city or college where he or she may not have a car and will be using a bike as a major mode of transportation.

tools and skills
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Especially for Teenagers

Campus Wise Cycling: Safety Tips 101

Be Head Smart, It's Time to Start

Smooth Moves

Climbing Hills on Your Bike

Going Downhill Fast

How to Shift and Change Gears

Caught in the Rain?: Here's how to ride:

Riders of the Storm: Staying safe in a thunderstorm

Riding Efficiently

Securing your bicycle--and your stuff

How to Park Your Bike

How to Secure Your Bike

How to Lock Your Bike

How to Carry Your Stuff

Bike Basics

NHTSA's 10 Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety

Learn your ABCs: check out your bike before you take it out!

League of American Bicyclists' 10 Commandments of Cycling

Bike Maintenance 101

General Mechanic Skills

Tools You Need to Use: What to Take on the Road

Under Pressure: Keeping Your Tires in Check

Why Tires Go Flat

The Science of Stopping: Brake Basics

Finding your place on the road

Principles of Traffic

How to avoid Motorist Errors

How to Position Yourself on the Road

Turns and Lanes

How to Change Lanes on Your Bike

How to Avoid Getting "Doored"

Bike Lanes- What They Are and How They Work

Riding Right- On the Right

Riding in style

How to Ride Comfortably

Exercises for Cyclists

Eat Better, Cycle Better: Nutrition Tips

Advanced cycling skills

Riding in Groups

Riding at Night-- Always with Lights

Riding on Rural Roads

Suspension for Road and Mountain Biking

Pacelines and Drafting