|Cycling is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and get "in motion".
It's a fun and healthy way to get around your town, neighbourhood, the
city or even across the country. Many people ride their bikes to and from school or work. As a child, getting your first bike is an exciting time -- for both kids and their parents! It's an activity that the whole family can enjoy together.
Cycling also has its risks, from minor bike crashes with scrapes and bruises to more serious injuries involving broken bones or head injuries. Every year in Manitoba approximately 160 cyclists are hospitalized for cycling related injuries, with several resulting in serious injury or death. About 40% of these injuries occur to cyclists under the age of 18.
Bike helmets and NEW legislation
Bike Safety and Manitoba Bike
Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle has proven to reduce the risk of serious head and brain injury by more than 85 per cent.
NEW Bike Helmet Legislation in effect May 1st, 2013
On May 1st, 2013 a new law takes effect in Manitoba that makes it compulsory for cyclists under the age of 18 to wear a suitable helmet while cycling. The law also applies to an individual under that age when the individual is a passenger on a bicycle or on or in anything attached to or towed by a bicycle. Helmets must be certified by standards such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Snell Memorial Foundation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Helmets offered through the low cost bike helmet initiative cost less than $15.
**Effective May 1, 2013, bicycle helmets will be exempt from provincial sales tax, no age restriction applies.
Parents and guardians are responsible to ensure their children are wearing bicycle helmets when cycling. If you are the parent of someone under 18 that is not wearing a bike helmet while cycling, you can be ticketed under The Highway Traffic Act.
This law also provides an alternative to paying a fine, for cyclists who have received their first ticket for not wearing a helmet. They can take the Manitoba Bike Helmet Safety Course and have their fine dismissed. The course provides cyclists with important safety information about bike helmets.
Be a role model for your children and wear your helmet every time you cycle. And make sure that the children in your family are protected and always wear a certified helmet when riding their bikes.
It is important to wear a bicycle helmet correctly. Not too loose or sitting too far back on your head. A helmet that is worn incorrectly may actually increase your chance of injury while riding a bicycle.
- Use this easy 2V1 rule as a technique when putting on your helmet before you hit the road:
- With your helmet sitting level on your head you should have no more than "2" fingers between your eyebrows and the bottom of the helmet
- The side straps should form a "V" shape just below your ears
- Adjust the chin strap so only "1" finger fits between your chin and the strap.
- Failure to yield
- No helmet
- Alcohol/substance use
Injuries can happen anywhere - close to home, on the sidewalk or side streets. Research shows that cyclists are more vulnerable to injury at intersections and on multi-lane roads. For children and youth, most bike injuries happen due to:
Most young children, especially before the age of nine do not have the maturity and skill to cycle safely alone on the road, streets etc. They should always cycle with a parent or guardian if doing so.
The links below are intended to help parents make safe choices in selecting outdoor equipment and ensure that they are using it safely.
- Bike helmet safety information for infants and toddlers
- Bike carriers (children's bicycle seats)
- Bike trailers
- Trailer cycles (trail-a-bike, tag-along) & bike tow bars
- A person should be able to comfortably straddle a boy's version of their bike with both feet flat on the ground. If a girl's bike is preferred, simply ask the retailer for a girl's version in the same size - but after fitting is complete.
- Don't buy a bike that is too big for your child, thinking they will 'grow into it'. By doing so, you might increase their chance of injury while riding their bicycle.
- Many cyclists ride bikes with seats that are too low. If the seat is at the correct height a person's leg will be straight when sitting on the saddle, with their heel on the pedal, at the bottom of the stroke.
- Check to ensure handle bars are at a comfortable level.
- Make sure that the bicycle wheels are on tight and that the brakes are working.
- Learn about using hand signals to let drivers know when you are stopping or turning.
- Understand how traffic flows and remember that as vehicles, bikes should always drive on the right side of the road.
- Everyone in the family riding a bicycle should understand all road signs.
For more information, Manitoba Public Insurance has published an "I Cycle Safely" brochure for children and youth, and a "Bike Safely" booklet for adults on learning and following the rules of the road.
Take steps to be visible while riding your bicycle:
- Wear bright coloured clothing in the daylight (consider fluorescent colours) and wear reflective clothing at night.
- Use a white light on the front and a red or amber light or reflector on the back of your bicycle.
- A reflective strip around your ankle will make you even more visible as a cyclist.
Important links and resources
For more information about biking safely, check out the Manitoba Local Government Active Transportation web portal for information on a safe cycling program in your community. Ask your school, local police service or community club about local bike safety programs for your children.