Bike Safety Rules

Once your child has a bicycle helmet that fits them properly (see my post entitled Bike Safety for details), they are ready to learn some basic bike safety rules.  Rather than just discuss these rules with your children and send them out on their own, I would suggest that you go on a bike ride or two, to practice these rules in the real world and solidify them in your child’s mind.

These bike safety tips are provided by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, in cooperation with the Ontario Cycling Association (source: Young Cyclist’s Guide):

[green_tick_1_list width=”100%”]

  • Ride in a straight line on the right side of the road, in the same direction as traffic (usually one half to one metre from the curb or from parked cars).
  • Stop at the edge of the road, stop at red lights and stop signs.  Look to see if the road is clear.  Look all ways.
  • Always look over your shoulder behind you before you turn or move out on the road.
  • Signal – let drivers know what you are going to do next (click here for a review of bike signals)
  • Look ahead down the road to see if there might be danger ahead.
  • Get off your bike to cross at a crosswalk or busy street.

[/green_tick_1_list]

In addition, I have included a number of tips of my own (things I found myself teaching my daughter when we were ‘touring the neighbourhood’):

[green_tick_1_list width=”100%”]

  • When coming up to a cross street or corner, slow down and put your hands on your brakes so you are prepared to stop, then look around to make sure there are no cars before you proceed.
  • Be aware of cars in driveways to ensure they are not backing up (look for the back-up lights).
  • When turning corners, try to stay close to the side and not swing widely into the street.
  • If multiple bikers, ride in single file with a decent distance between you and the person in front of you (if they stop suddenly, you will have a better chance of stopping).
  • Ride with your hands on the handlebars and don’t carry things while riding.  Also, make sure nothing is hanging off your bike, as it may get caught in the spokes, gears, or pedals.
  • Make sure pant bottoms are held securely in place so that they don’t get caught on gears or pedals (e.g. I often use a piece of Velco or an elastic).
  • Wear proper footwear that is securely fastened to your feet (flip-flops are notorious for falling off or getting caught in bicycle machinery).

[/green_tick_1_list]

We can’t be with our children 24/7, but if we teach them the skills they need to stay safe, we will be able to breathe a little easier.  For information about the equipment children should have to stay safe on their bikes, read my post entitled “Bike Safety“.

Bike Safety

This time of year is a great time for a bike ride and children typically prefer this mode of transportation to walking, as it gets them to where they’re going in a hurry.  However, their freedom and independence can sometimes get the better of them and they forget all about bike safety (let’s face it, kids tend to subscribe to the belief that they are invincible).  Before you let your kids head off on their bike to a local park or a friend’s house, be sure to teach them basic bike safety skills.

The first thing to teach them is the importance of wearing a helmet every time they ride their bike (even if it’s just on your driveway).  “Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent” (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).  Many states and provinces have laws in place requiring the use of helmets for “children” (typically anyone under 16 to 18 years of age), and some even legislate bicycle helmet use for people of all ages.

It is important to know that other types of helmets (e.g. those used for hockey or other sports) do not provide the protection a child needs when riding a bike.  In addition, a helmet must be worn correctly to provide protection in case of a fall or accident.  Read this article by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, to find out more about this important piece of safety equipment and how to make sure your child’s bicycle helmet fits them properly.

helmets_optimized

Click here to read the full article.

In addition to helmets, there are other key pieces of bike safety equipment.  This includes things worn by the rider, as well as attached to the bike, for increased safety.  For further information, read this article by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

bike-safety-equipment_optimized

Click here to read the full article

Keep an eye out for my next post, where I will outline basic bike safety rules to teach your children.  It takes a little extra time and effort to prevent a bike injury, but it’s well worth it!

To learn about other ways you can keep your children safe this summer, read my posts on Water Safety and Beach Safety.