Written By: Salvatore Shaw and Brandon Pedersen, Summer Student
With another school year finished, children are now eager to get outside and enjoy the summer months. One of the many activities that children enjoy is riding their bicycle. There are few feats more rewarding for child than finally taking off the training wheels on their bicycle and being able to ride freely and feel the wind against their face. Sadly, however, cycling can be a dangerous activity without the right equipment or a good understanding of safe riding practices.
Tips and Safety Measures
There are a number of things that you and your child should keep in mind in order to reduce the chance of injury. Here are some top tips on bicycle equipment and safe practices you can review with your child before they ride:
Starting out – sizing your bike
It is important to ensure your children are riding a bike that fits properly. Children are continuously growing, and the growth over the course of one year can make a big difference in bike safety. A bike that is too big or too small can’t be properly controlled and can be dangerous for the cyclist and those around them. As a general rule, a cyclist should be able to stand flat-footed over their bike’s frame with two to five centimeters of clearance.
Always wear a helmet, it’s the law!
A helmet gives you and your child a real chance of walking away from a fall or collision with a car. Not only that, but Ontario law requires every cyclist under the age of 18 to wear an approved bicycle helmet while riding! The current fine for bicycle riders under 18 travelling on any public road without a helmet is $75. Regardless of whether the law requires you to wear a helmet while cycling, a helmet can greatly reduce the risk of permanent injury. We strongly recommended that all riders wear helmets.
In order to be the most effective, it is important to ensure that the helmet fits your child properly. The easiest way to ensure that a helmet fits right is to check that the edge of the helmet is 2 fingers above the eyebrows to protect the forehead and 1 finger should fit between the chin and the chin strap. It is also important to ensure that you only use a helmet that is in good condition, without any cracks or defects to the shell, protective foam, or chinstraps. Also check to see that the expiry date for the helmet (normally located on a sticker inside the helmet) hasn’t passed.
Practicing good safety habits
So, your child is ready to go, now what? It is essential to teach your child the fundamentals of cycling and road safety before letting them loose in the neighborhood. It is important to start developing these good habits at a young age. For a checklist of road safety tips for young cyclists, see our fun Guide to Bike Safety for Kids!
And parents don’t forget to always remember to practice what you preach! Children most often do what they see, rather than what they are told.