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Bike and Small Wheeled Recreation Safety


Cycling, in-line skating, and riding a skateboard or scooter are great ways for you and your family to be active, get around, and stay fit. Using smart risk strategies can help you lower the risk of injuries when you’re doing these activities.

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 places like bike paths or trails, remember that you’re sharing the space with others.

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

  • A pedestrian (a person who is on foot) 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. It’s always a good idea to plan your bike route ahead of time so you know it’s safe.

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.

Make sure everyone in the family wears a helmet that meets approved helmet safety standards. Follow these important helmet tips:

  • Always wear a helmet that is right for the activity.
  • Make sure it meets current, approved helmet safety standards (for example, 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.

Make sure your child always wears a helmet when biking. People who choose their own helmets are more likely to wear them, so let your child choose their own helmet.

Take the Bike Helmet YES Test to make sure a helmet fits properly.

Make sure the bike is safe Choose a bike that is the right size for the person riding it. Make sure it’s working properly before every ride. Wear cycling gloves for a better grip on the handlebars and proper, supportive footwear.


Do an ABC Quick Check

A = Air: Make sure the tires are firm.

B = Brakes, Bar, and Bell: Check that your brake levers work and the handlebars are the right height, and test your bell.

C = Chain: It should be tight and 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. Follow these 4 basic rules that all cyclists need to know:

  • Stop at all intersections.
  • Look left, right, and left again before going ahead.
  • Learn and use hand singles.
  • Ride on the right side of the road so that you’re going in the same direction as traffic.

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

Riding with children
Children can often ride a bicycle before they understand how to be safe. Children are not ready to cycle alone until they understand road safety rules, know how to signal, and know how to avoid major risks. When riding bikes, young children should always:

  • Ride with an adult.
  • Follow your lead. Ride in a single file and have children repeat your hand singles.
  • Get off of their bikes before crossing the street.

Around age 10 is when most children have both the physical and thinking skills they need to ride a bike on the road. >Parachute can help you decide when your child is ready to ride their bike safely on their own.

Ride 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

Skateboards, in-line skating, and scooters are great ways to keep your child active. It’s important to:

  • Think about your child’s physical and thinking abilities.
  • Watch for anything dangerous in the area where your child is playing.
  • Be sure they follow safety rules.
  • Lead by example.

Safe environments
Check the play area at the start of each activity to make sure it’s safe. Supervise actively—stay where you can see and reach 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. There are 2 kinds of helmets you might use:

  • 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.

It’s also important to always wear other protective equipment. Falls will happen. Wearing protective equipment can help lower the risk of injuries, making a new activity more fun to learn and practice. Protective equipment includes wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads.

Current as of: May 22, 2020

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services