Road Safety

Bike safety for your kids

Cycling is a terrific activity for children and a great opportunity for families to be active together. It's fun, gets us outdoors and builds strong, healthy bodies.

But before your children put their feet to the pedals, you need to make sure they have the necessary skills to do so safely. Read on to find out how to keep your children safe on their bicycles.

And remember, in Manitoba, it’s the law that cyclists under 18 wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet. Parents or guardians are responsible for making sure children wear a bicycle helmet and can be ticketed under The Highway Traffic Act. Teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 can be fined directly or have to complete a bike helmet safety course.

Watch this video about tips on how to teach your child to ride a bike.

Facts about child cycling

  • Most children who are seriously injured or killed while cycling are hit by a motor vehicle.
  • Most cycling injuries to children are due to the high speeds reached while cycling, lack of experience in controlling the bicycle and lack of protective gear.
  • Head injuries are the cause of many child cycling deaths and even seemingly minor head injuries can cause permanent brain damage.
  • The most common children's bicycle injury is a broken bone.
  • Most children who are seriously injured or killed while cycling are hit by a motor vehicle.

Help keep your children safe

  • Make sure that you and your children wear a certified bicycle helmet on every ride. A bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injury. See below for more information on helmets.
  • Cycle frequently with your child and model proper behaviour. Practice road safety rules and obey all traffic laws.
  • Teach your child proper hand signals.
  • Adult supervision of child cyclists is essential until you're sure your child has good traffic skills and judgment. Before allowing your children to ride alone, ensure that they understand the rules and display safe riding techniques.
  • Keep brakes and other parts in good working order.
  • Poor visibility adds to the risk of a collision between a bicycle and a motor vehicle. When cycling, children should wear easy to see, bright clothing.
  • Children should not ride a bicycle at night or in other low-light conditions (e.g. when it's foggy). If riding at night is unavoidable, the bicycle should be equipped with lights and reflectors, and children should wear bright, reflective clothing.
  • Make sure that your child's bicycle is the right size for them. See sizing guide (below) or go to a local bicycle shop for more information.

Sizing a child's bicycle

Sizing of a child's bicycle is different than sizing for an adult. As a general rule of thumb, the sizing of bicycles for children is based on their age and inseam measurement.

  • Children aged 2-4 with a height of 66-86 centimetres (26-34 inches) and an inseam measurement of 36-43 centimetres (14-17 inches) should ride a bicycle with a wheel size of 31 centimetres (12 inches).
  • Children aged 4-8 with a height of 86-107 centimetres (34-42 inches) and an inseam measurement of 41-56 centimetres (16-22 inches) should ride a bicycle with a wheel size of 36 or 41 centimetres (14 or 16 inches). Taller kids should have a bicycle with larger wheels and may even need 46 centimetre (18 inch) wheels.
  • Children aged 6-9 with a height of 107-122 centimetres (42-48 inches) and an inseam measurement of 51-61 centimetres (20-24 inches) should have a bicycle with 46 centimetre (18 inch) wheels.
  • Children aged 8+ taller than 122 centimetres (48 inches)and an inseam of more than 51 centimetres (20 inches) should have a bicycle with 51 centimetre (20 inch) wheels or larger.

Helmet use:

  • By law, anyone under 18 in Manitoba must wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet while cycling. And remember: you are your child's best role model, so ensure you wear a helmet every time you cycle.
  • Helmets must be certified by standards such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Snell Memorial Foundation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
  • Helmets should be bright in colour, fit snugly, have adequate ventilation and adjustable straps. The helmet should sit level on the head covering the forehead with the rim just above the eyebrows.
  • If your child's helmet is more than five years old or has been hit hard by any object, it should be replaced.
  • See Equipment and Safety Gear – Helmets for more information.

For more information:

Visit Safe Kids Canada or call 1-888-SAFE-TIPS (723-3847).

Click here to download our I Cycle Safely booklet for your child: