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FOX Medical Team

Bike safety stressed as summer begins

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ATLANTA -

Do you remember what it was like the first time you road a bike by yourself? It's kind of a defining moment for a kid.

This summer, as metro Atlanta kids take to the streets, the FOX Medical Team's Beth Galvin caught up with local children learning the rules of the road.

The kids from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's "Strong For Life" program spent a morning sitting in a classroom listening to the pros from the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition talk to them about how to ride safely.

Then, they needed to head outside and practice, not realizing they were going to do it on their very own bike.

Ten-year-old Hailey Couch almost couldn't believe she had lucked into a bike.
       
"Because it's purple, it's my favorite color," said Couch. "I was so excited, I really wanted to ride it around."

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition had a helmet for each kid.

Zahra Alabanza, a riding instructor with the coalition, showed the kids how to adjust the straps, so that the helmet fit snuggly. You want about a fingers width between your chin and the strap, which should pull tight when you open your mouth.
   
"If they go to a bike shop, they're going to show you how to properly put it on. It's not supposed to be loose on your head," said Alabanza.

Once they got the fit right, it was time to start pedaling.

The youngest riders had to figure out how to get on the bike.

"It's a tool that can teach so much. You see resilience. Biking is also a tool that can teach children resilience, their own determination," said Alabanza.

It only took a few moments before the riders got going.

"And my own son recently learned how to ride a bike, and it's a very proud parent moment," said Alabanza.

Until that day, 7-year-old Autumn Durham rode a princess bike with training wheels.

"It feels like everybody knows how to ride but me, when I didn't ride.  But now, it feels like everybody can ride," Durham said.

"Autumn is awesome.  She has a go-getter personality.  She went down once and was, like, 'Oh, I can do this,'" said Alabanza.

Autumn's mom, Shay, was her spotter as she rode around and around on the grass.

"Autumn was like a fish to water with the bike," Durham said. "The last bike we had training wheels and then we got here and I guess she just figured it out."

Most of these kids live in areas that don't have sidewalks, so the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition really pushes safety.    

"Listening, using your eyes and your ears, so being very alert while you're riding your bike," said Alabanza.

After about an hour of practice, Hailey Couch is ready for Summer on her beautiful bike.

"Because it's going to be very perfect, because I like my bike.  And we could go maybe everywhere and I'll ride it," said Couch.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has put together some tips to help parents make sure their kids' helmets fit properly. Click here to read them.

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