Brain Injury Association
of Prince Edward Island

Bicycle Safety

Be a Good Role Model: Obey the rules, wear your helmet.

A child learns to balance and handle a bike many years before he or she is able to develop a sound judgement about traffic, and a realistic appreciation of risk. Children under 9 should be supervised when they cycle.

Practice makes permanent. If you teach your children bad habits, they will find it hard to change later. Get it right first time!

Infants

Young infants have little ability to protect themselves. Never carry a baby in a front chest carrier, or in a back pack. If you want to cycle with your infant, the only real option is in a car seat strapped into a bicycle trailer, but it is best to wait until your child is able to sit up alone.

Never cycle with an infant without an infant's bicycle helmet on. If the child is screaming too much, don't be tempted to cycle. Try again when the child is older.

Toddlers

The earliest most experienced cyclists start riding with their children is when the child is around 18 months, and can support the weight of his or her head with a helmet on.

The debate about whether a trailer or a rear bike seat is better depends on your riding circumstances, your ability and your preference. A trailer tends to be more stable, and allows more room for toys and snacks, but the child is further away from you and low to the ground. Trailers are not suitable in high auto traffic situations: it is hard to hear, the child is not very visible, and the fumes are blowing into his or her face. It is always best if another adult can ride behind the trailer. Bike seats mean your child is close to you, but they shift the centre of gravity higher and further back. Your bike can become quite unstable. Practice with a twenty-five pound bag of potatoes before you strap your child into the seat. A novice, or inexperienced adult cyclist should avoid adding a bike seat.

Whichever choice you make, remember to always strap in your children, and ensure they have a helmet on. Of course, you should have a helmet too. If you are lying unconscious on the road, you are not able to protect your child.

Young Children

When your child first learns to ride a bike, a turn in the park or around the block is the extent of a trip. If you want to go further, try a trail-a-bike. This trailer looks like a bike with one wheel. It attaches to your seat post and your child sits on the extension, on a bike seat, holding handlebars, and pedalling (especially useful when climbing hills). This invention allows you to cycle with your children when they do not have the stamina to go long distances.