Safe Routes to School Palo Alto


Bike Safety

Bicycle safety is no accident: Cyclists who follow the rules of the road dramatically reduce their risk of colliding with a motor vehicle.


Parents: Think of a bicycle not as a toy, but as your child's first vehicle. Help your child learn good basic cycling habits early. Practice safely crossing different types of intersections before allowing your son or daughter to bike independently. Remember that you are your child's best role model!

Bicycle Safety Tips

  • Be visible. Ride where drivers will see you: on the right side of the road. Drivers are not looking for wrong-way traffic. Wear light or bright colors and don't weave in and out of parked cars or ride on the sidewalk.
  • Be predictable. Follow the same rules of the road as automobiles. Avoid crashes and traffic tickets by obeying ALL stop signs, traffic signals, and other traffic laws. Unless you are walking your bike, you are not a pedestrian.
  • Signal your turns if you can do so while maintaining good control of your bike.
  • Ride on the right, moving in the same direction as traffic. Wrong way riding is extremely dangerous. If there is no bike lane, ride as far to the right as practicable. Stay visible to traffic by not weaving in and out of parked cars.
  • Wear your helmet and buckle it every time - It's the law. To best protect your brain, your helmet must fit properly - snug and level on your head, just above your eyebrows. More information on helmets is here.
  • Be alert and visible. Ride at least 3 feet from parked cars to avoid suddenly-opened doors. Ride far enough from the gutter to avoid the debris that accumulates there, and scan the road ahead for hazards. Check over your left shoulder regularly for approaching traffic (practice so you can do this without swerving).
  • Make left turns safely and legally - don't turn left from the bike lane or right side of the road. Most youth should make pedestrian-style left turns (called "box turns"). Experienced bicyclists can look, signal, and merge to the left in advance of the intersection, much the way car drivers turn.
  • Make eye contact with drivers - especially at intersections and driveways. Don't assume that drivers see you! Encourage right-turning drivers to turn behind you instead of cutting across in front of you by moving a couple of feet to the left when approaching intersections (look over your shoulder to be sure it is safe before doing so).
  • You always have the option of becoming a pedestrian. Consider this if the intersection is especially crowded. Move out of the stream of traffic, get off your bike and walk it in the pedestrian crosswalk. Young children are often slow and wobbly when starting from a stop. They are better off as pedestrians at intersections with traffic lights.
  • Obey instructions of adult crossing guards. Elementary school students are required to get off their bikes and walk through intersections with crossing guards.
  • Do NOT carry things in your hands. You should secure anything you need to carry on your bike rack or basket. Keep your backpack snug, not dangling low on your back.

Preventable Injuries

Learning to ride a bike is a big milestone in a child's life. The bicycle, a child's first vehicle, is a source of pride and a symbol of independence and freedom. It is important to help your child learn to ride safely. 


Here are the most common ways that children get hurt while riding bikes:

  • Wrong-way riding 
  • Turning left from the right side of the road 
  • Riding out of the driveway into the road without stopping and yielding
  • Failing to yield  (example: running a stop sign)
  • Swerving suddenly

In addition, always wear a helmet properly: 85% of all bicycle fatalities are due to head injuries, and a properly-worn bike helmet can reduce the chance of brain injury by 88%.


Parents must enforce wearing a helmet along with teaching children how to avoid accidents.  It is not enough just to wear a helmet but also children must learn street skills.

Bike Education for Kids and Parents

Taking classes on how to raise safe bicycle riders is a great way to learn about street smart skills.


These classes for adults, youth and parents of young children teach people how to bike safely in traffic. Based on the League of American Bicyclists curricula, these classes can reduce your chance of being in a crash by 60% - 80%.


For more information, click on Palo Alto bike safety classes.

Resource for Bicyclists

  • Kids and Bikes (for younger children): Teaching your child to ride a bike can be a very rewarding experience; of course, we also recommend following up with a League Kids I course so their skills are street-ready. Here are some tips to get you started...
  • Sharing the Road (Bikes and Motorists) The best way to educate motorists on bicyclists' rights to the road is to ride respectfully and have facts on your side. Here are some resources for cyclists and drivers on sharing the road.