Wheels in a Child’s Life & What to Teach your Children About Bicycle Safety

Wheels in a Child’s Life & What to Teach your Children About Bicycle Safety

Wheels in a Child's Life

Bike RiderWith the warmer weather, children on bicycles, scooters, skateboards and in-line skates are everywhere. Cycling, rollerblading, skateboarding and riding a scooter are great ways for kids to keep active. They need to be safety conscious, but they should get out there and have fun.

The shocking truth is that when it comes to kids being injured on wheeled devices, most mishaps are the fault of the child. That puts a big responsibility on parents to instill safety from a young age. They must supervise children to help them gain skill and learn the rules of the road.

The largest proportion of the mishaps don't involve motor vehicles. Most common are falls, hitting a stationary object, and running into a bike or pedestrian. However, about 90 per cent of cycling fatalities are caused by cyclists being struck by motor vehicles.

When children follow each other on their bikes, the first child may run a stop sign and get through and the next one is hit. Children must always assess the traffic situation for themselves.

Almost two-thirds of in-line skating injuries happen on roads and sidewalks. Relatively few occur in those areas best suited for recreational in-line skating, such as playgrounds and rinks.

The recent scooter fad has been accompanied by a surge in related injuries, mostly to children under 15 years of age. Protective equipment, including wearing a helmet, could have prevented many of the injuries. Another problem is that some children try spins, jumps and twirls. Scooters were not built for daredevil stunts. They're designed to be ridden on smooth, flat surfaces.

What's the single most important precaution for children on wheels? The Canada Safety Council insists on the value of wearing a bicycle helmet for all these activities. In a spill, the forehead usually hits the ground first, and head injuries cause most fatalities and serious injuries. Transport Canada statistics for 2001 reveal that all cyclist fatalities under age 15 were unhelmeted.

Buy and use only helmets which bear the CSA mark. Those helmets meet the requirements of Canada's national standard for bicycle helmets. CSA International now has a bicycle helmet standard for children under five, the first in North America. Parents should look for helmets with a permanent yellow label informing purchasers that the helmet is specially designed for cyclists and cycle passengers under the age of five.

Safety on Wheels:Bicycles
  1. Make sure your bicycle is safe. Does it work properly? Check tires, brakes, etc . Does it fit properly? You should be able to straddle the bike with both feet on the ground; a bike that is too big or too small is a safety hazard. Does it have a bell, a light and reflectors?
  2. Obey all signs, signals and rules of the road. Know the signals for riding on the road (stop, turn right, turn left) and know how to shoulder check before turning. Child cyclists must obey the same rules of the road as adult drivers: ride on the right side of the road, stop for stop signs and red lights, signal turns, and yield to traffic that has the right-of-way.
  3. Always wear a helmet that fits properly. The helmet should protect the forehead without slipping forwards or backwards; it should not move unless the scalp moves.
In-line Skates, Skateboards and Scooters
  1. Protect yourself from injury. Wear protective gear: a bicycle helmet, wrist guards, gloves, knee and elbow pads and protective clothing (long sleeves and pants).
  2. Skate and ride where it's safe. Use roller rinks, parks and playgrounds. Stay away from roads and traffic. Skate or ride on dry surfaces and under good weather conditions. Skate or ride on the right side of paths and trails.
  3. Watch out for what's around you. Stay away from water, oil or debris or uneven or broken pavement. Always yield to pedestrians. Be careful near stairs and steps.

Source: Canada Safety Council www.safety-council.org