UF teaches children to be responsible cyclists

When most children receive a shiny new bicycle, they often hit the road with nothing more than their first taste of freedom and the exhilaration that comes with the rubber hitting the road and the wind in their face.

However, children are often unprepared for the dangers posed by the new and exciting mode of transportation. The consequences can be devastating, resulting in not just scrapes and broken bones but sometimes traumatic brain injuries.

Safe Kids USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing accidental childhood injuries, reports that only 15 percent to 25 percent of cyclists ages 14 and under wear a helmet, and the risk for fatal head injuries could be reduced by 75 percent simply by wearing one.

Shawn Batlivala, M.D., a 2005 graduate of the College of Medicine and now co-chief resident in the department of pediatrics, and his colleagues conducted a local study on bicycle safety. The study will provide insight into parents’ consideration for bicycle safety as well as gage their current bicycle safety practices, such as helmet wearing and fitting. While Batlivala’s team waits to receive the results from the study, they, along with Safe Kids and the city of Gainesville, held a bike helmet giveaway and education session on Friday, June 19 at the Gerold L. Schiebler Children’s Medical Services Center.

One hundred colorful and aerodynamic helmets were given away to children along with tips on how to wear them and ride safely.

Below, Shawn Batlivala, M.D., Co-chief resident, helps children fit into their new bicycle helmets. Photos by Sarah Kiewel.