Your Health

Cycle safely

How to make sure your child knows the rules of the road

How to make sure your child knows the rules of the road

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, Summer 2009

Bike riding is a terrific activity for children and a great opportunity for families to be active together. It's fun, it gets us outdoors, and it builds strong, healthy bodies. However, before your children put foot to pedal, parents need to make sure that they have the skills to do so safely. Please read on to find out what you need to know to keep your children safe on their summer bike ride.

The facts about child bicycling injuries:

  • Bike collisions with automobiles kill about nine children every summer in Canada and result in over 800 hospitalizations, some to intensive care.
  • Head injuries are the cause of 80 per cent of child cycling deaths and 28 per cent of child hospital admissions for cycling injuries.
  • Most children who are seriously injured or killed are hit by a motor vehicle.
  • A child's riding behaviour and road safety skills are found to be a factor in more than 50 per cent of cycling deaths.

The good news is that these deaths and injuries are preventable:

  • Make sure that you and your children wear an approved, properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. A bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by more than 85%.
  • Learn the skills and rules necessary to protect yourself and your child while cycling on the road or path. Frequently ride with your child and practice road safety rules.
  • Before allowing your children to ride alone, they should be 10 years old, understand the rules, and show that they can ride safely. Children less than 10 years of age are not physically and mentally able to remember all their safety lessons at the same time as riding and watching for dangers.
  • Your children should not bike in road traffic until they are at least age 10.
  • Make sure that your child's bicycle is the right size for their height and weight. Keep brakes and other parts in good working order.
  • Poor visibility adds to the risk of a collision between a bicycle and a car. When cycling, children should wear easy to see, bright clothing.
  • To be safe, children should not ride their bike after dark. Anyone riding near dusk or in poor visibility should have their bicycle equipped with lights and should wear reflective clothing.

To read more about summer safety tips, please visit

Source: IMPACT, Injury Prevention Program, Winnipeg Health Region


About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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