by Lisa Doyle
As summer comes to an end and people are starting to arrive home from vacation, back to school becomes a major topic of discussion. With that in mind, it is important to talk to your children about bike safety as they may be riding to school. Bike safety is a significant issue as Statistics Canada has indicated in a report that from 1994 to 2012, on average, there were 74 cyclist deaths each year. There are, however, ways to prevent an injury or reduce the severity of an injury that may occur.
The first thing that needs to be addressed is making sure that the bicycle fits properly. Individuals should be able to touch their feet to the ground and their hands should fit comfortably to the handle bars. Brakes should be well maintained and in proper working order. It is also mandatory for bikes to have a bell or horn that works, as a cyclist must warn pedestrians if they are coming up behind them on a shared-used path. Wearing the proper protective equipment is also a very important, such as an approved bike helmet. Parents who ride with their child in a trailer must also make sure their child is wearing an approved bike helmet to reduce the risk for injury during a collision or crash. By wearing a bike helmet, one can reduce the chance of a head injury by more than 85 per cent. An important thing to remember is that wearing a helmet is not only important for protecting yourself, but is also mandatory for anyone under the age of 18 in Alberta. Even though anyone over 18 has the right to choose whether they wear a helmet, it is important for children to see their parents and caregivers setting a good example so that children are more likely to wear one.
Bicycle injuries are typically due to falls, riding into objects, and crashing into other cyclists or pedestrians. Whether you are learning to ride a bike for the first time or need some training before you hit the road, taking a bike safety course with trained personnel can reduce the risk of injury. While on the road, it is vital that you follow traffic signs and go in the same direction as traffic. Back to school also means busy schedules, so make sure you leave adequate time to get to school and always look both ways before crossing the street as it can save your life.
To learn more about bike safety please visit: https://saferoads.com/.
Lisa Doyle is a Health Promotion Facilitator with AHS Community Health Services, and can be reached via e-mail: [email protected]