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Ask the Expert: How can I ensure my young teenage son is safe when he's cycling?

Some schools offer bicycle training, which is a great way for children to feel more confident when using roads

Q: MY 13-year-old son is always out on his bike with his friends. What's the best way to make sure he's as safe as possible on the roads?

A: Dave Nichols, community engagement manager at the road safety charity Brake (http://www.brake.org.uk/), says: "Any parent will tell you that keeping their child safe around roads is a constant worry. With more and more traffic, families are often torn between encouraging children to be more active by cycling, and a fear of letting them near dangerous roads.

"Road crashes are the second biggest cause of death for youngsters aged five-to-19, so it's easy to understand why road safety is such a pressing issue for many families.

The good news is there are lots of things that can be done to improve road safety at a local level and Road Safety Week from November 19-25 (www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk) is an ideal opportunity to bring people together to work towards safer travel for everyone.

"This year's theme of Bike Smart focuses on the importance of protecting those on two wheels, who are some of the most vulnerable road users. We have lots of free resources, including the two-minute animation We Love to Cycle, which has advice for both your son and adults on how they can be bike smart.

"You can see whether your son's school offers bicycle training. This is a great way for him to learn new skills and feel more confident when using roads.

"As a parent you can help make sure his bike is safe, by ensuring it's a suitable size, well-maintained and has lights if he's riding in the dark. And talk to him about the benefits of wearing a helmet and bright clothing. You can also help plan safe routes for him, including cycle paths away from traffic.

"Don't forget the importance of setting a good example yourself. You can choose to cycle instead of drive. And when you do drive, go slowly where people live, always look out for cyclists and give them plenty of space when overtaking. You can also campaign for better infrastructure, such as cycle paths."

:: Bike Smart is the theme of this year's Road Safety Week (November 19-25).

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