Nearly a fifth of all cyclists killed in Ontario traffic crashes were children under the age of 16, according to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). Making sure that your child is properly geared and that he or she knows the rules of the road will go a long way to preventing an accident.
Emphasize caution with your kids. It’s far better to drill them on bicycle safety and be a pesky parent than to have your child harmed or wind up as a statistic.
Read over the following bicycle safety tips for kids, extracted from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s Young Cyclist’s Guide and use them as a safety checklist.
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Proper Safety Gear & Equipment
As a parent, it’s your job to ensure your child’s bike is safe and in good working order and that your child wears adequate safety gear.
Here are a couple of checkpoints:
- Helmet – not only is wearing a helmet the law for minors, but it is the number one safety rule when riding a bike. Make certain your child wears one every time, and that it’s the correct size, properly adjusted, and free of excess wear. You should not be able to fit more than one finger between the strap and your child’s chin.
- Bike – make sure the bike is the proper size for your child. If you’re unsure, a bike shop attendant can help. Check that the gears and brakes are functioning properly, and that the tires are inflated as well.
- Equipment – Ontario law specifies that all cyclists must have at least the following equipment: a helmet, a horn or bell, lights and reflectors, and reflective tape. Don’t allow your child on the road without these items.
Teaching the Rules of the Road
While drivers are also responsible for preventing bike accidents, it’s crucial that your children understand the basic traffic safety rules that cyclists are expected to know. For instance, they should:
- always ride on the right side of the road, in the same direction as traffic;
- ride next to parked cars as if the doors were open, i.e., they need to keep enough space between their bike and the car so that they will not collide with a door if it suddenly opens;
- use hand signals; and
- stay at least two meters behind bus and streetcar doors and wait until the passengers have boarded.
To improve your child’s understanding of the rules of the road, you can enroll him or her in cycling education courses, such as a CAA-certified CAN BIKE course. To learn more about a course, you can contact the CAA or the Ontario Cycling Association.
Set Clear Guidelines
Laying down and enforcing the rules regarding bicycle safety is one of the best things you can do as a parent to help prevent mishaps on the road for your child.
Walk+Roll Peel recommends forbidding kids under 10-years-old to ride their bikes on the road: “Most children at this age have not developed the necessary motor skills and judgement to ride safely in traffic without adult supervision.”
For more accident prevention and safety tips, peruse Preszler Law’s blog. If you are in need of legal counsel or have a question about bicycle accident claims or liability in Ontario, you can contact a lawyer at Preszler Law for a free legal consultation. Call 1-800-JUSTICE®.