This Spring we got all our kids new bikes. They hadn’t had new bikes in a long time so it was time! With bikes comes responsibility and rules. Both of these can be hard for kids 13 and younger, however – they are a must when it comes to bicycles. The kids need to learn about keeping their bikes in good condition, so maybe getting a building like that would teach them to put things away after they use them.
Ever since getting their new bikes my kids are always wanting to go out to ride and seeing kids riding around with no helmets really makes me cringe. So, it was important to me to make sure my kids had set rules before they even got their bikes. The two most important were: Do not even sit on your bike without a helmet and always walk your bikes across the road. Why? Helmets because protecting their heads is a major concern but also because it’s the law. I can’t believe the number of kids I see riding their bikes around on the road and without helmets. It makes me sick – it takes only a second for a bicycle accident, and heads should be protected.
For us, in Ontario the MTO website states, By law, every cyclist under age 18 must wear an approved helmet. Riders under 16 years old: a parent or guardian must make sure their child wears a helmet.
Now, here is a tricky part: Kids riding on the road. My older kids have been learning hand signals, and how to properly ride on the roads whereas the younger kids: Strictly don’t go on the roads. At all. Per the MTO website: Children under 10 years old should not ride their bicycles in traffic. To be safe on-road cyclists, good judgment and physical coordination is required. Children under 10 lack of depth perception and the thinking skills required to negotiate traffic. Proper adult supervision is required.
As parents should know, cycling on the roads isn’t always safe. It would be naive to say that accidents do not happen where a driver knocks a cyclist off their bike. Though you can take precautions, as stated above, you cannot control how recklessly a driver is driving.
So we will get to that as the kids get older, but for now – when we go for walks they stay on the sidewalk. The law where I live stipulates that anyone under 13 can ride a bike on sidewalks.
Communities across Ontario have different rules about young children riding on sidewalks while they learn to ride. Contact your local municipality for information about cycling by-laws.
I decided I’ve seen enough of kids riding around lately that I’d share some of these tips!
Summer Bicycle Riding Safety Tips for Younger Kids
Always wear a helmet: Not only is this the law for anyone under the age of 18 it is the safest way to ride a bicycle. I know kids don’t tend to want to wear them, but making sure they know and have rules like we do (ie: You cannot take your bike out of the garage without a helmet on) from an early age helps establish that its mandatory to wear a helmet when riding a bike so kids don’t try to battle. This is one battle every child should lose!
Walk bikes across the road: When crossing the street our number 1 rule is to walk bikes across. Cars tend to be a little speedy in our area, and making sure my kids walk their bikes across the road helps ensure they won’t fall or get stuck in the middle of the road for any reason. Walking their bikes across is much safer.
Tuck shoelaces in: Okay, this one is probably one that people will think I’m nuts for but if my child has on laced shoes I make sure they tuck their laces into their shoes before hopping on their bikes. A lesson I learned when I was a kid and fell multiple times due to shoelaces. No thank you!
Sidewalk manners: I’ve always taught my kids from a young age, on a bike or off to have sidewalk manners. When someone is walking down the sidewalk with a stroller, or on a bicycle step to the side. The same goes for on their bikes, move to the side. The elderly are also a priority, if they are coming – get out of their way.
Stay together: If my older kids (15, 12, and 11) want to head anywhere on their bikes not only must they abide by all the rules but they also must stay together. No speeding off in front of anyone, stay with each other, and if someone falls behind stop and wait until they catch up!
Stay alert: Always stay alert. Be sure to take in your surroundings and know where you are going before you go! Watch for cars backing out or pulling into driveways, and wanting to turn in or out when crossing the street.Once kids are older these rules dramatically change. They’ll have to ride on the road and follow the rules of the road to be cycling on it. I haven’t gotten there with my younger kids yet, but my oldest knows all about it. He doesn’t ride a bike, it’s not really his thing but my others love it so I’m sure in the next few years another post will pop up with some of the rules and ways to make sure our kids are safe when cycling on the roads!