Parent-adolescent bicycling safety communication and bicycling behavior

Efforts to encourage bicycling to school have increased in the United States. However, little is known about how parent-child communication affects bicycle safety. The purpose of this study was to examine parent-child agreement on biking instructions and their correlation with the early adolescents’ real-world riding behavior. Parent-child dyads were asked open-ended questions about instructions they had given/received about bicycling. Answers were then coded into nine categories (e.g., crossing the road, bicycle control/handling). Distributions of parent-child agreement on parent-given bicycle safety instructions were examined in relation to the adolescent’s real-world riding behaviors. 36 parent-child dyads were included. Average age was 11.9 (Range: 10–15) for adolescents and 43.3 (Range: 30–59) for parents. Common parental instructions included: wear helmet, ride on sidewalk, and trip routing specifications. High ‘ride on sidewalk’ instruction (38.9% both parent and adolescent, 22.2% parent only, 16.7% adolescent only) was concerning due to potential driveway conflicts. Agreement between parents and adolescents on reported instructions was low, overall. Mean safety-relevant event rates in real-world cycling did not differ significantly between bicycle safety instruction agreement groups (both parent & adolescent reported, parent only, adolescent only, neither). The proportion of time an adolescent rode on different infrastructure types (sidewalk, street, etc.) did not vary between dyads reporting parents had given instructions to ride on the sidewalk and those who had not. Results highlight lack of agreement between parents and adolescents on cycling instructions the adolescent receives from the parent. Parent instructions to adolescents regarding bicycling safety were not associated with actual riding behaviors. Results suggest parent messaging to adolescents may be ineffective. Given parents are in a position of influence, results indicate a need for parental training on effective safety-related communication strategies to assist them in capitalizing on their parental role to increase their child’s safety.


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  • Accession Number: 01718098
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 6 2019 3:05PM