Spring is here and it’s time for the whole family to get out cycling again. Think about the fun you’ll have– a ride to the park for a picnic is just the start. When you get the bicycles tuned up, don’t forget the other equipment: helmets for every member of your family.
Old helmets might need replacing – maybe they don’t fit anymore, or maybe they got dropped or cracked in the garage. Be sure to inspect every family member’s helmet carefully for condition and fit, including your own. In British Columbia, it is mandatory for all cyclists to wear a helmet.
A well-maintained bike and a helmet aren’t the only things you need to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride for all. After all, cycling-related incidents are a leading cause why Canadian kids under the age of 14 are hospitalized. Yet while cycling incidents can be serious, the majority are preventable. Adults can be a “roll” role model for kids with these tips:
- Protect your head, wear a helmet. Head injuries are the top cause of serious injury or death to kids on bicycles. A properly fitted and correctly worn bike helmet can make a big difference, cutting the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%.
- Check your ride. For kids and families, a fun, safe cycling experience starts with a properly equipped bicycle. Ensure bikes are adjusted properly for the rider. Be sure to inflate tires and always check brakes are working properly.
- Be visible to others. With bright clothing, lights, and proper cycling behaviour, a cyclist can be more visible to other road users. Be conspicuous!
- Learn the skills to control your bike. Riding in a straight line, using hand signals, and knowing how to stop in all conditions are important. And avoid using headphones.
- Know and obey the rules of the road. Brush up on the rules of the road and use them – drivers of cars can’t read your mind. Use hand signals, stop at all stop signs and stoplights. The Bike Sense manual has interesting facts on when and where most collisions happen.
- Pick family friendly routes. Find areas that are designated for riding, whenever you can. These are better for young riders.
Most importantly, ride together! That’s the message from Parachute, a Canada-wide organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. This year, the theme for Safe Kids Week (May 4-10) is about cycling and road safety. Look for cycling clinics or other events in your community to help you and kids cycle safety.
Photo Credit: BC Gov Photos