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enforcement issues & programs

FHWA bicycle safety education resource center

Children & Teens : young cyclists ages 9-12

At what age is it safe for children to begin to bicycle outside quiet neighborhood streets and ride on the street instead of the sidewalk?

Experts differ slightly on this issue. While there is no "magic age" that determines when it is safe to ride on arterial roads, children in the 9-12 year-old age group likely have developed the cognitive skills that allow them to bicycle on the road.

"Younger kids [under the age of 9 or 10] generally do not judge closing speeds well," explains Preston Tyree, education director of the Texas Bicycle Coalition in Austin.

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


Children who are first learning to bicycle, no matter how old they are, should cycle with an adult until they attain the confidence and skills to ride on their own.
Good route selection should always be emphasized. Using mandated bike lanes, bike routes, and streets with less traffic is recommended.
Even when cycling on the street or block where you live, the 9-12 year old cyclist must exercise the same degree of caution and defensive cycling that they do on larger roads.

tools and skills
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Tools and Skills

When teaching 9-12 year-old cyclists, focus both what they need to know and also what they want to know about cycling. Spark their interest by asking what they would like to know about cycling. Teach them to seek out cycling knowledge by searching the Web, visiting the library, asking at a bike shop or community recreation center about cycling clubs and rides in their area.
Emphasize that it's important to ride with traffic- in fact, it's illegal to ride against it.
Teach the 9-12 year-old cyclist to hone advanced riding skills, such as selecting gears, learning how to ride in groups, how to follow another cyclist at a safe distance. Visit the League of American Bicyclists website for more on:
     group riding
     shifting & gears
Teach 9-12's about lane positioning: how to look behind you before changing your position or lane, how to deal with right turn lanes when cycling straight, what to do when the lane is narrow and cars are parked in your way, and how to alert others in traffic to your intended moves.
Teach this age group more about their bicycle and its accessories. Emphasize the importance of getting to know your bike. Teach how glasses and gloves can help you; introduce them to the option of special bicycle clothing; and explain how to maintain good hygiene even after a tough ride.

tools and skills
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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

Choosing the Right Bike and Helmet

Buying a Child a Bicycle

Choosing the Right Size Bicycle for Your Child

Your Bicycle Helmet: A Correct Fit

Helmet Fit Tips

For even more comprehensive helmet coverage, visit our helmets page at

  Special Safety Concerns for Kids

Why Kids are at Risk

Kids and Bikes

Dogs in the Neighborhood

Yes, Safety Can Be Fun!

Looking for adventure? Journey along with NHTSA's Safety City Bike Tour!

Resources, Resources, Resources: Download tip sheets, a bike safety quiz, listings of training programs, catchy brochures, and other fun and handy bicycling resources.

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 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

Smooth Moves

How to Shift and Change Gears

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

Riding Efficiently

Finding your place on the road

Principles of Traffic

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