The following information has been adapted from various official and media reports. See Sources tab for original articles.
With spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, the number of people enjoying wheeled activities like cycling, in-line skating, skateboarding and scootering is about to rise. Cycling can be enjoyed safely when you understand the rules of the road and practise proper safety and handling techniques. Below are some of the tips to consider this summer.
Riding in TrafficWhen it comes to maneuvering city streets on two wheels, it’s important to ride both defensively and responsibly. The key to cycling safety is being predictable on the road, so that drivers can anticipate what you’re doing to do.“Cyclists need to know that they have the same rights as other vehicles on the road,” says Leana Garrison, Transportation Coordinator with Halifax’s Ecology Action Centre, “but they also have the same responsibilities.” That means respecting stop lights and signs, signaling, and travelling in the same direction as traffic.
“Cyclists have a right to use a part of the roadway, and are allowed to take an entire lane when their safety requires it,” says Herb van den Dool, a Toronto-based cycling activist and blogger with ibiketo.ca.
Whether you’re feeling squeezed out by traffic or you need to make it safely around a pothole that’s in your way, don’t be afraid to claim the space you need, even it forces the traffic around you to slow down. He also recommends riding at least a meter away from parked cars to avoid being hit by car doors.
It’s also crucial to check over your shoulder any time you move out in to traffic or make a turn, just to make sure you’ve been seen and that no vehicles are trying to pass you.
Kids' safetyAccording to Safe Kids Canada research, children are most likely to get hurt when they are beginners and just learning how to ride; when they ride or skate near cars and traffic; when they do not use safety gear and when they go too fast or try stunts. "It's important to select a helmet which is approved for the activity you're doing," says Dr. Charles Tator, neurosurgeon and founder of ThinkFirst Canada, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of brain and spinal cord injuries. "Bicycle helmets are good for people on bicycles, scooters and in-line skates, but skateboarders need a different helmet that protects the back of the head."
A less obvious, but equally important, difference between bicycle and skateboard helmets is in the construction. "Bicycle helmets are intended to offer the best protection against a single, forceful crash, after which it must be replaced," Dr. Tator explains, "but skateboard helmets don't offer this kind of protection. They work best against multiple, less intense impacts most common in skateboarding. So wearing the right helmet for the right activity really can make a difference." Become a 'Roll' Model: Most parents (73 per cent) say their child always wears a helmet when cycling. But when it comes to setting an example, both mom and dad could brush up on their helmet use. Overall, 31 per cent say they never wear a helmet when cycling. "One of the best ways to get kids to wear their helmets when riding or gliding is by setting a good example," reminds Fuselli. Top five tips to protect your child's head:
• Ensure your children wear a helmet every time they ride.
• Get the right kind of helmet. Choose a bicycle helmet for cycling,in-line skating and scootering. Skateboarders need a special skateboarding helmet that covers more of the back of their head.
• Ensure the helmet fits your child. The helmet should rest two finger widths above the eyebrow. The side and chin straps should be snug.
• People of all ages should wear a helmet when they ride. Remember: You are your child's best role model.
• Children under 10 should not ride on the road. They do not have the physical and thinking skills to handle themselves safely in traffic. Children over 10 need to practice before they can ride on the road.
Tips for DriversGarrison says drivers can help ensure cyclists feel safe on the road by “slowing down and giving them plenty of room.” She says drivers frequently misjudge the speed at which cyclists are traveling, and that’s when the accidents happen.
van den Dool agrees, explaining that “drivers should never pass a cyclist and then suddenly brake or turn in front of the cyclist, because it may cause the bike rider to crash into the rear of the car.” Because most collisions between drivers and cyclists happen at intersections, Garrison recommends approaching them with extra care, and making eye contact whenever possible.
For more information, consider brushing up on your bicycle safety skills by taking a CAN-BIKE course from Canadian Cycling Association.