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Bike and Small Wheeled Recreation Safety


​Cycling, in-line skating, and other wheeled activities are great ways to be active, get around, and stay fit. Using smart risk strategies as part of your wheeled recreation can help prevent injuries.

Cycling Safety

A bicycle is classified as a vehicle that belongs on the road. Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. You must obey the same rules of the road when riding your bike on the street as you do when driving a car. When you are riding on bike paths, etc., remember that you are sharing the space with others.

Look First

Be prepared for the unexpected, and stay alert for hazards, for example:

  • A pedestrian or animal could dart in front of you.
  • Debris, grates, or holes in the road could make you swerve or crash.
  • Wet or cold weather could affect the path, or your visibility.

Remember to shoulder check and look behind you each time you turn or move out to pass, and always use your hand signals.

Wear the Gear

Protect your head. Bike helmets protect riders of all ages. It is the law in Alberta that anyone younger than 18 years must wear a helmet.

People who choose their own helmets are more likely to wear them, so let your children choose their own. Make the helmet habit a family affair. Make sure everyone in the family wears a helmet that meets approved helmet safety standards.

Take the Bike Helmet YES Test.

Important helmet tips:

  • Always wear a helmet that is right for the activity.
  • Make sure it meets current, approved helmet safety standards (Examples: look for a CSA, Snell, or ASTM sticker).
  • Make sure it fits. It should be snug, level, and stable.
  • Replace your helmet every 5 years or after it has been in a crash.

Is Your Bike Safe?

Make sure you choose a bike that is the right size for you and is in the proper working order each time you ride. Wear cycling gloves for a better grip on the handlebars​ and proper, supportive footwear. Also make sure that:

  • your child’s feet can touch the ground
  • your child can reach the handlebars

Do an ABC Quick Check

A = Air - firm tires

B = Brakes - check that they work

C = Chain - tight, well-lubed

You must be seen and heard. Reflective tape, reflectors, and lights make it easier to see you at night. Reflectors should be on the front, back, and spokes of the bike. Bright clothing catches people's attention in the daytime. Since bicycles are quiet, you should have a bell or horn on your bike.

Get Trained

Knowing how to ride a bike safely is not common sense. There are 3 basic rules of the road that all cyclists need to know and follow:

  1. Stop at all intersections.
  2. Look left, right, and left again before going ahead.
  3. Ride on the right.

Look for an organization or club that offers training in safe cycling for the road or for other terrains such as the mountains. This type of training is offered at most bike shops, recreation centres, etc. See what your community has to offer.

Children often have the physical skills to ride a bicycle at an early age. Children are not ready to cycle alone until they understand road safety rules, know how to signal, and know how to avoid major risks.

Most children are not ready to ride in traffic until they are between 10 and 14 years old.

Drive Sober

Stay safe by paying attention when you are cycling. Don’t use alcohol or drugs when riding your bike. Avoid distractions like using cell phones or listening to music.

Small Wheeled Recreation

Small wheeled recreation safety

Skateboards, in-line skating, and other wheeled activities are great ways to keep your child active. It is important to think about your child’s physical and thinking abilities, manage the hazards that an environment may have, insist safety rules are followed, and lead by example.

Safe environments

Check the play area at the start of each activity to make sure it is safe. Supervise actively—stay within sight and reach of your child and pay close attention to what your child is doing.

Safe equipment

Children who don’t wear protective equipment are more likely to be injured. Use the right gear for each activity.

Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury.

  • Sport-specific helmets are recommended for some small wheeled activities like skateboarding. Skateboarding helmets cover the back of the head and are designed to protect against more than 1 crash.
  • Multi-sport helmets meet safety standards for more than 1 activity. Be sure to read the label carefully so you know what activities the multi-sport helmet covers. If you have any questions, contact the manufacturer or your local sports store.

Always wear protective equipment.

Wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads are also important protective equipment. Falls will happen and protective equipment can help prevent injuries, making a new activity more fun to learn and practice.

Current as of: January 11, 2018

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services