Bicycle Safety for Children


  • Unintentional injury is the most frequent cause of death and disability in children and is also among the most preventable.
  • Perhaps the most devastating of all injuries with the most long lasting effects is an injury to the brain.
  • Brain injuries account for 43% of all deaths to young school-aged children.
  • Brain injuries do not heal like cuts or bruises.
  • A child's skull is more at risk for injury than those of adults. The human skull can be shattered by an impact at 7 to 10 km/h. A fall at a speed of 20 km/h can result in death. Permanent brain damage can result from a fall from 2 feet (60 cm).
  • Bicycle injuries are one of the leading causes of brain injury in children.
  • Injuries to the face, neck, ankles and arms are common injuries also suffered by bicycle riders.
  • Over 100 Canadians die each year from bicycle injuries. Children aged 5 to 14 account for about half of these deaths.
  • Overall, the most common type of injury is a fall (70% vs. 30%).
  • Cyclist errors accounted for over 1/3 of all injury causes.
  • Bicycle helmets are designed to protect the brain and skull during impact. It is estimated that bicycle helmet reduces the risk of injury by 85% and of brain injury by 88%.


  1. Hard Shells have a rigid outer layer and a foam inner liner
  2. Thin Shells have a thin, light but firm plastic covering over the foam
  3. Soft Shells are lightweight, with a protective foam shell wrapped in a brightly coloured fabric

All three helmets are certified to withstand the impact in an accident, but the hard shell will stand up to general wear and tear.


  • Do make sure your child does not wear a cap, scarf or hood under the bicycle helmet. The bicycle helmet would then be more likely to come off in an accident.
  • Do make sure your child does not put long hair up in a ponytail on top of the head before putting on the bicycle helmet. If there is a lot of hair between the head and the bicycle helmet it makes for an improper fit.
  • Do make sure there is nothing attached to the bicycle helmet. Some paint and stickers can damage the bicycle helmet by eating into the shell. They may look good, but the head won't be protected. Only use those paints or stickers that come with the bicycle helmet when it was bought. These are approved for bicycle helmets. As another option, use a Lycra bicycle helmet cover instead.
  • Do make sure that every child has their own helmet. Trading bicycle helmets can cause the bicycle helmet to fit improperly, or the bicycle helmet will be adjusted so that it does not fit properly when returned. A bicycle helmet and its fit are personal.
  • Do make sure your child takes off the bicycle helmet when playing on playground equipment.
  • Do make sure your child's bicycle helmet fits properly.
  • Do make sure your child wears a bicycle helmet when riding wheeled toys, bicycles, tricycles or in a carrier that is attached to your bike.
  • Do make sure to buy your child an approved bicycle helmet. Never use helmets made for hockey, football, etc. Bicycle helmets are the only helmets designed to absorb the type of impact that may occur in a cycling crash or fall.
  • Do check your child's bicycle helmet often. Look for cracks and make sure that the screws and fasteners are secure.
  • Do check to make sure that your child has not outgrown the helmet.


  • Use only mild soap and water to clean the helmet, straps and pads. Never use any chemicals.
  • Bicycle helmets should not be stored in an area where there is direct sunlight. Keep bicycle helmets in a cool, dry area.
  • Store bicycle helmets on bicycles - not in the closet.
  • Educate your child to avoid "throwing" the bicycle helmet.


  • Buy stick-on reflectors and put a few on your helmet to make you more visible at night
  • Be a role model! Kids follow by example so wear a helmet yourself.



  • An approved bicycle helmet must be worn, with a chin strap securely fastened.
  • Reflectors: Your bike must have a white or amber front reflector and a red rear reflector. If you drive ½ hour before sunset or ½ hour after sunrise, you must have a front light.
  • Bell: Your bike must be equipped with a bell or horn in good working order.
  • Brakes: Your bicycle must have at least one break system on the rear wheel.
  • Identification: Cyclists must identify themselves when stopped by the police for breaking traffic laws. The police officer will ask you for your correct name and address.
  • Passengers: No passengers are allowed on a bicycle designed for one person.
  • Reflective Tape: A bicycle must be equipped with white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on the rear forks.
  • Sidewalks: only bicycles with wheels less than 43 centimeters may be ridden on the sidewalk.


  • No parent or guardian of a person under sixteen years of age shall authorize or knowingly permit that person to ride on or operate a bicycle, other than a power-assisted bicycle, on a highway unless the person is wearing a bicycle helmet as required.



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