Children and Bikes
Biking is the most popular outdoor activity among young Canadians. About 90% of children aged 10 to 14 are bicyclists. Over 100 Canadians die each year from bike injuries, children aged 5 to 14 account for about half of these deaths. In addition, 50,000 children in Canada are injured every year in bike-related mishaps.
It is the parents responsibility to educate their child on the importance of bicycle operation and safety. When a child receives their first bicycle, a lifelong pattern of vehicle operation is begun. Until a child can ride confidently and to follow basic rules of the road, riding must be restricted to sidewalks, paths, and driveways under a parents supervision.
To demonstrate basic competence, a child must be able to:
- Stop the bicycle quickly by using the brakes. A child should be able to use the brakes to slow down and stop and dismount the bicycle without falling.
- Start riding without wobbling out of a path one yard wide. This demonstrates balance, the child should be able to get on the bike and drive at a very slow speed. Can they keep their wheels in a straight line?
- Ride in a straight line near the curb.
These skills should be practised on a smooth surface with no cars around. Children can practice driving in a figure-eight pattern to improve their skills.
Children who ride in an unsafe manner should be disciplined so as to establish the significant and real concern of the parents. Prohibiting the use of a bike is an appropriate disciplinary step to reinforce the proper use of a bicycle.