Bike and Wheel Safety

Introduction Cycling and other wheeled activities are great forms of transportation and recreation. Cycling allows children and youth to be healthy and active as well as have fun. Appropriate steps must be taken however, to ensure that children and youth are safe when participating in these activities. Children, youth, parents, caregivers and communities need to be well-educated regarding the importance of safe cycling practices and the devastating injuries that can occur when practices such as helmet use are not followed. Bicycle related injuries are a major threat to the health of children and youth.

  • In 2004 there were more than 2100 bicycle-related injuries in Saskatchewan.
  • In 2008 there were 250 reported collisions between a bicycle and motor vehicle in Saskatchewan. Almost half of these collisions occurred with cyclists under the age of 20.


The majority of bicycle-related injuries are preventable. Common Injuries and Safe Practices Bicycles For cyclists of all ages, falls are the number one cause of injury. Children who are learning new motor skills can be expected to fall more often than older and experienced cyclists. This is true when learning any new wheeled activity. Ensuring proper safety equipment is used will help protect children and youth. Appropriate safety equipment for cycling includes:

  • Helmet – an approved bicycle helmet
  • A properly fitted bicycle – should be able to stand flatfooted over the bike with at least one inch of clearance above the top tube
  • Other equipment includes a bell or horn, reflectors and rear and front lights for night riding
  • When entering the street from driveways, parking lots and sidewalks, a cyclist may not stop and watch for traffic. This behaviour is a frequent cause of car-bike collisions involving children. Always yield to oncoming traffic, and look both ways before entering a street.
  • Riding a bicycle and facing traffic is among the most hazardous cycling practices. Riding a bike on the wrong side of a street greatly increases the chance of a collision with a motor vehicle. A bicycle is a vehicle. Motorists need to respect a cyclist’s right to share the road. Always ride on the right side of the road.
  • Young or inexperienced cyclists may turn or swerve without warning into the paths of cars travelling in the same or opposite direction. When young children are learning to ride a bike they should stay off of busy streets.
  • Sidewalk riding is a common cause of cyclist injury. When a cyclist rides on the sidewalk, every driveway becomes an intersection. Motorists do not expect to encounter vehicle traffic coming from the sidewalks. Sidewalk cyclists can also be obscured by bushes, hedges or fences. If a child is going to be riding on a sidewalk, ensure constant parental supervision and yield at every street and driveway.
For safety information on child carriers and trailers for bicycles, please visit Safe Kids Canada

Roller Blades

  • Environmental hazards such as gravel, debris, poor road conditions and other obstacles can be challenging for young children who are developing their balance and strength. Young children should stay off of street ways when rollerblading.
  • It is typical for riders to fall forwards with outstretched arms when learning to rollerblade. The wrist and hand are therefore very common fracture sites for children. Appropriate safety equipment to protect children from injury includes:
  • Helmet – an approved bike helmet is appropriate
  • Wrist Pads
  • Elbow Pads
  • Knee Pads


  • Young children are at an increased risk of injury if they ride scooters on roadways where hazards such as vehicles, cyclists and other obstacles exist. Children should ride scooters on the sidewalk of non-busy streets when possible.
  • Uneven ground and obstacles are a risk for anyone riding a scooter, and especially for young children who are still developing their motor skills. Find paths that are free of broken pavement, rocks, and debris when learning to ride a scooter.
  • Appropriate safety equipment and gear includes:
    • Helmet – an approved bike helmet is appropriate
    • Elbow Pads
    • Knee Pads
Wrist guards are not recommended because they may interfere with steering the scooter.


  • Learning to maneuver and control a skateboard takes balance and full-body coordination. Children who are growing and developing will experience changes in spatial awareness, motor coordination and balance.
  • Fast speed and tricks increase the risk of injury to a child. A child who has previously developed the skills to control a skateboard may be at an increased risk of injury when experiencing a growth spurt. Changes in motor ability, coordination and spatial awareness can greatly affect a child’s ability to perform tricks.
  • For the above reasons, ensure protective gear is worn at all times by riders of all skill levels. A large number of injuries associated with skateboards are due to a lack of protective gear. Appropriate safety equipment and gear includes:
    • Helmet – an approved skateboard helmet
    • Wrist Pads
    • Elbow Pads
    • Knee Pads

Bicycle Inspection and Maintenance

Refer to the images provided below to locate different parts of the bike when performing a bicycle inspection.


Bicycle Inspection Checklist

  • Check for frayed cables and broken housing by looking at them and squeezing the brake levers.
  • Brake blocks should have at least 5 cm of rubber and be mounted with the opening of the holder at the back. Brake blocks should hit the rim squarely. Brake levers should be tightly mounted. Brake levers should not touch the handlebar when squeezed. Each brake should be able to lock its own wheel.
  • Wheels should be securely fastened, with quick release levers turned inwards toward the wheel. They lock by turning, not screwing shut.
  • Wheels should spin without rubbing or wobbling. If wheels rub or wobble, check for trueness and for brake blocks or fenders rubbing against the wheel.
  • Tires should have reasonable tread, no cuts and no bulges.
  • Keep tires inflated to the pressure stamped on the sidewall. Make sure valves are closed.
  • A derailleur chain should be under tension and not squeak. A single-speed or three-speed chain should have about 1 cm of play. All rivets should be flush within the links.
  • Keep chain oiled and free from rust and dirt.
  • All the gears should work, with unfrayed, unrusted cables.
  • Shifter thumbscrews should be tight. If the gears are adjusted, the chain should not rub the front derailleur or any part of the frame. There should not be grinding noises.
  • Pedals should spin freely, with a minimum of shake from side to side.
  • Cranks should rotate freely with a minimum of shake from side to side.
  • Handlebar headset should allow free rotation of the handlebars but should not allow any forward and backward motion between the fork and frame. Lock the front brake and rock the bike back and forth to check for any motion.
Handlebars and saddle
  • Keep tightly fastened.
  • Should be free from bends and wrinkles.
  • Bikes should have the legally required front lights and rear lights or rear reflectors in working order.
  • Attachments should be secure.
  • Handlebar tape should be in good condition and end plugs or grips tight.
  • Drop your bike from about 10 cm off the ground. If there are any rattles, find them and tighten all loose parts.

Maintenance Tips

Maintenance Tips Weekly
  • Oil your chain; clean your bike.
  • Check your tire pressure and look for glass or other sharp objects embedded in your tires.
  • Check for and tighten loose parts.
  • Check cables for rust or fraying.
  • Oil brake levers at the pivot point.
  • Check the brake shoes for wear.
  • Check the tires for wear.
  • Check the chain for stretch.
  • Check bearings for play.
  • Annual overhaul of moving parts.

Bicycle Safety Week


The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute is proud to announce Bicycle Safety Week 2017 is from May 14-20, 2017. The theme of the week is “Build Safe Bikers”. Please fill out the registration form and return it to

If you have any questions, please contact

Download Registration Form

Bicycle safety week letter

About Bicycle Safety Week

Bicycle Safety Week is a week-long event promoting bicycle safety for children and youth. Communities, local groups, and individuals across the province of Saskatchewan are encouraged by the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute encourages to plan and promote activities during Bicycle Safety Week.

Participation can be as simple as distributing safety information in your community, to organizing one or more events and activities such as a safety fair, a presentation from your local RCMP, or a bike rodeo. How you participate in Bicycle Safety Week is up to you. Every action and contribution is valuable to ensuring the health and safety of child cyclists. Bicycle Safety Week is an optimal time for communities in Saskatchewan to raise awareness of the multiple components of bicycle safety.

The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute provides support to registered participants in ways such as: sample press releases and media promotion, activity guides, resource handouts, age-specific handouts for children, and free giveaway items. As a registered participant you will receive materials, resources, and items not available by download. Many downloadable resources are also available.

We hope you will join us in helping to prevent bicycle-related injuries among Saskatchewan children. Please feel free to call the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute at 306-651-4300 if you have any questions.

Child Cyclist

It is important to remember that children are not just small adults. Children are developing physically and mentally and have many characteristics that make them vulnerable near traffic. Vision: A young child’s peripheral vision is about two-thirds of adult’s. Children may not have the ability to see a car or obstacle that the adult next to them sees. Hearing: Children have acute hearing, but have difficulty localizing sound. This means that they have difficulty determining the direction from which a sound is coming. Children may be unaware that the sound of a vehicle they hear is moving towards them. Mental Development: Many characteristics of children increase their risk of injury when they are near traffic.

  • Children lack a sense of danger.
  • Children may be impulsive, easily distracted and impatient.
  • Children are not good at judging the speed and distance of approaching vehicles.
  • A child may not have the ability to process all the pieces of information necessary to make safe decisions while near traffic, despite being taught correct safety practices.
  • Older children may participate in more risk-taking behaviours.

Needing to wait for a traffic signal, being distracted by friends at the upcoming park, or misjudging the speed of an approaching vehicle in an intersection are just a few examples of how a young child may act in an unsafe manner due to their developmental stage. Physical Development: Balance, strength and coordination are required to safely ride a bike. Children grow rapidly in spurts and because of this they often do not have an accurate awareness of their body size, abilities and limitations; this increases a child’s risk of falling while on a bicycle. A child’s developing motor skills also reduces the ability to avoid obstacles such as holes in the road, pedestrians and other cyclists. I hear, I know. I do, I understand Children will remember 90 percent of what they do, but only 20 percent of what they hear. Children need to be taught the skills required for traveling safely in traffic as a cyclist; however, teaching children safety behaviour is not enough. Traffic safety skills and behaviour will develop best if children are given opportunities to practice. Children need to practice and experience what they are taught about traffic safety, just as they practice what they learn in school. Children do not master skills in one day and as they grow older, developmental stages will indicate appropriate new practices regarding traffic safety.

Rules of the Road

Hand Signals

A bike is a vehicle. As a cyclist, you are expected to follow the rules of the road. Some rules and safe practices to remember when on a bicycle are listed below.

  • Obey ALL traffic lights and signs.
  • Use the correct hand signals for turning left, right and for stopping.
  • Ride on the right side of the road.
  • Allow only one person on a bike. Do not ride double or carry large packages on your bike.
  • Be visible. Wear bright clothing. Cyclists must be seen by motorists to ensure their safety.
  • Encourage children not to ride at night. If night-riding is unavoidable, use appropriate lights and reflectors.
  • Be predictable – other traffic must know how you intend to act. Signal turns and stops. Cyclists need to know what the traffic around them will do next as well. In this way the road can be shared by cyclists and motorists safely.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way over all vehicles, including bicycles. Let pedestrians cross before you move through an intersection or a crosswalk.
  • Ride single file when with a group of cyclists. Call out stops and turns to the cyclists behind you. Do not blindly follow another cyclist through an intersection; each rider must decide when it is safe to go.
  • Cyclists should ride one metre from the curb. This allows a cyclist to be clearly visible to motorists and to avoid holes, debris, grates and other hazardous objects. Cyclists may move away from the curb when necessary to avoid hazards, turn left and pass slower vehicles or cyclists.
  • Cyclists should ride one metre away from parked cars. This helps avoid car doors that are being opened or cars that suddenly pull-out of parking spots. Cyclists should ride in a straight line from parked car to parked car and not swerve in closer to the curb between parked cars. This will ensure a cyclist stays visible to other traffic and makes predictable movements.
  • When changing lanes, plan the move ahead of time. Before moving, look over the shoulder on the side you will move to and check for traffic. Make a hand signal to tell traffic what you are going to do. Shoulder check again and wait until the path you intend to take is clear. Quickly move to the new lane of travel.
  • When turning right, signal the move while approaching the intersection or after stopping at the corner. Stop if the traffic lights or a stop sign indicates you are to stop. Cyclists must stop and wait for any pedestrians in the crosswalk or intersection to clear before making their turn.
  • When turning left, use the procedure for changing lanes to get to the left turn lane beside the centre line. Signal for the lane change and again for the left turn. After completing a left turn a cyclist must return to the curb position as soon as it is safe to do so. Make a left turn only when the intersection is clear and when signs or lights allow you to do so. Remember that you are crossing in front of oncoming traffic and vehicles travelling from the other direction have the right of way.

NOTE: If an intersection is busy or looks difficult, you can always dismount and walk your bicycle across the crosswalk instead of changing lanes to make a left turn.


  • In Saskatchewan, between 1995 and 2004, 1058 children under the age of 19 were hospitalized with cycling injuries. 1 out of every 3 of these children suffered a head injury. (Saskatchewan Health, 2007)
  • Children aged 10 to 19 have the highest rate of hospitalization due to cycling-related head injuries and other injuries compared to all other age groups. (Saskatchewan Health, 2007)
  • Children under the age of 19 accounted for over half (63%) of all cycling-related hospitalizations in Saskatchewan between 1995 and 2004. (Saskatchewan Health, 2007)
  • 4 out of 5 cycling-related deaths in Saskatchewan are associated with head injuries. (Saskatchewan Health, 2007)
  • A total of 8 children in Saskatchewan under the age of 20 died between 1995 and 2004 due to cycling injuries. (Saskatchewan Health, 2007)
  • Almost half (44%) of all cycling-related deaths were to children under 20 years of age in Saskatchewan between 1995 and 2004. (Saskatchewan Health, 2007)
  • In 2009, Saskatchewan was rated poor on bicycle helmet legislation. (Canadian Paediatric Society, 2009)
  • According to the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 11.4 million Canadians over the age of 12 cycle and 46% of them said they have never worn a helmet. (Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009)
  • In 2009 in Canada, 30.6% of cyclists between the age of 12 and 19 wore a helmet when cycling. In Saskatchewan, only 17% of cyclists between the age of 12 and 19 wore a helmet when cycling. (Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009)
  • Cyclists between the age of 12 and 19 in Saskatchewan are the least likely to wear a bicycle helmet out of all age groups. (Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009)
  • In 2009, 37% of Canadians always wore a bicycle helmet when cycling. Four provinces in Canada have bicycle helmet legislation for all ages and helmet use rates in these provinces are above the national average. Saskatchewan has no bicycle helmet legislation and helmet use rates are well-below the national average with only 22% of people always wearing a helmet when they cycle. (Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009)
  • Helmet use reduces the risk of head injury and brain injury by up to 85%. (Thompson DC, Rivara F, Thompson R, 2009)
  • Cycling-related incidents were the leading cause of summer sport and recreation-related injuries in Canada, accounting for 43% of major trauma admissions in 2004-2005. (Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2007)
  • Canadian Institute for Health Information, National Trauma Registry Analysis in Brief: ATV Injury Hospitalizations in Canada, 2004-2005, (Toronto: CIHI, 2007). Statistics Canada, Health Profile (2010). Retrieved from
  • Saskatchewan Health, Population Health Branch (2007). An epidemiological analysis of hospitalizations of cyclists with head and other injuries in Saskatchewan, 1994/05 – 2003/04. Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey. (2009). Retrieved from
  • The Canadian Paediatric Society. (2009). Are We Doing Enough? A status report on Canadian public policy and child and youth health. Retrieved from
  • Thompson D.C., Rivara F., Thompson R. (2009). Helmets for preventing head and facial injuries in bicyclists. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Art. No.: CD001855. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001855. Retrieved from