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Riding a bicycle is more than basic transportation, it can be a fun and exciting hobby and a great source of exercise. When you ride you’re not alone. You share the road with cars, trucks, pedestrians, and other cyclists. More and more cyclists are taking to the roads, trails, and paths this summer and an accident can quickly turn a bicycle adventure into a bicycling tragedy.

Toronto Paramedic Services highly recommends that everyone take a bicycle training course such as the Can-Bike training course. For more information check out the Toronto Cycling Committee Can-Bike course.

There are other cycling resources at the City of Toronto web site. Have a look at the City’s main cycling page. Here are some bicycle safety tips to help make your ride a safe and enjoyable one.

Bike Size

Parents often make the mistake of selecting a bike that is obviously too big for their child, thinking that he/she will grow into it. Not only is learning to drive and ride an oversized bike extremely difficult, but much of the enjoyment is lost and the risk of falls and collisions is increased.

A bicycle should suit the rider’s ability and kind of riding. Get the right fit, a bike that’s too big or small can be uncomfortable and dangerous. An oversized bicycle impedes balance and hampers control.

Frame size: with both feet flat on the ground, straddle a bike’s crossbar. If there are 1 or 2 inches between you and the bar (3 inches for mountain bikes), that’s the frame size for you (even if you buy a bike without a crossbar). Never buy a bike to grow into.

Saddle Height – The single most important aspect of body positioning is saddle height. It influences how effectively power is delivered from your legs to the pedals. Proper saddle height reduces knee strain and thereby reduces the likelihood of knee fatigue or injury.

Adjust the saddle so that when seated, your heels rest solidly on the pedals. Pedal backwards. If your pelvis rocks from side to side in order to keep your heels on the pedals at the bottom of the stroke, the saddle is too high. Lower the seat until your heels remain on the pedals while pedaling backwards. When saddle height is properly adjusted, rocking from side to side will no longer occur.

Legs should not be fully straight while cycling. A proper riding position requires legs to be approximately 95% extended at the bottom of the stroke, with the balls of the feet squarely placed on the pedals. Saddle Tilt – The saddle should comfortably support most of your body weight. Body weight should be centered on the saddle, with your arms flexed and relaxed.

Handlebars – the grips should be at about seat level. With dropped handlebars, the upper part should be at or a little below seat level. Seat post and handlebar stems are inscribed by the manufacturer with marks establishing the maximum adjustment (max. adj.) height. Never raise a seat post or handlebar stem higher than these marks. There must be sufficient post or stem inside the frame to support the stress and weight. Insufficient stem or post inside the frame may cause the top part of the tube to break off.