Cycling on the roadway, in and of itself, is an activity that brings about a higher risk of serious injury because cyclists are not protected by a car’s exterior like motorists are. Young children are even more vulnerable while riding bicycles on the roadway because they are smaller and harder to see. Therefore, it is critical that parents and guardians review roadway laws and safety measures with their young children regularly to avoid unfortunate accidents and injury.
Children must obey the applicable traffic laws anytime they ride on the roadway just like adults (ie. Stopping at stop signs and red lights, ensure the lane is clear before changing lanes, etc.). Bicycles must also have proper reflective gear and bells. Unlike adults, children under 14 are allowed to ride their bicycles on sidewalks under Toronto’s Traffic By-Law. This privilege, however, is not limitless. Toronto’s Traffic By-Law specifies that no person is permitted to operate a bicycle on a sidewalk “recklessly or negligently or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to the public”. Contravention of these by-laws will result in a fine. Children are also required by law to wear a helmet at all times while riding a bicycle.
Other safety measures that would improve young children’s safety while biking in Toronto, although not necessarily mandated by law, include:
- Ensure the helmet fits properly;
- Ensure the bicycle fits the child properly;
- Ensure the child understands how to inspect his/her bicycle before each riding session;
- Ensure the child wears bright-coloured clothing for drivers to see them better;
- Ensure the child knows how to use hand signals;
Various courses like CAN-BIKE are available to help children learn to be confident and safe cyclists. The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario also provides a detailed Young Cyclist’s Guide, which can be found here: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/pdfs/young-cyclist-guide.pdf.
As children are our future – let’s teach our children how to ride safe!!!
Note: Singer Kwinter will be contributing a few posts to BikingToronto over the next month in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month. This post originally appeared on Biking Toronto on June 5, 2018.