Try the new

Cycling and Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian Safety

Each year approximately 50 Canadian children are killed and more than 1000 are hospitalized as a result of pedestrian injuries. 5 - 9 year olds are the age group most at risk for pedestrian deaths. When children are away from home they are more at risk of pedestrian injury. For example, when children who live in rural areas visit the city, and when children from the city visit rural areas, safety awareness is more important.

Children are more at risk for pedestrian injuries because:

  • They don't understand the dangers from cars
  • They think that drivers will see them
  • Children have trouble judging distance and speed
  • Their peripheral vision is not fully developed
  • Drivers can not see them because of their height

Quick Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Find ways to practice safety during the child's daily activities - walks to the park, store, or school.

  • Set a good example! Children will copy behaviour good or bad.
  • Tell babysitters, grandparents and neighbours the same message you tell the children.
  • Remember that children judge distance, speed, and sounds differently then adults.
  • Be patient and praise, praise, praise (adapted from the *KIDestrians™ Program, 1992 )

KIDestrians™ is:

  • A unique program that takes into account the reality of traffic and children's behaviour.
  • A pedestrian safety program for children ages 18 months to 8 years.
  • A step by step guide that outlines 12 fun lessons that parents and caregivers can practice with young children.
  • KIDestrians™ makes it easy to help children learn and practice pedestrian safety in a range of settings.
  • KIDestrians™ is a registered trademark of the Trauma Prevention Council

top of page


Cycling educational programs are available for children and caregivers through bicycle safety events such as school and community bicycle rodeos and resources such pamphlets and videos. Assistance with developing safe cycling policies and environments are also available to communities. 

Tips to parents for safe cycling ensure that children:

  • Wear a helmet while cycling
  • Have a bike that fits properly and is well maintained
  • Know the skills to handle a bike
  • Know the rules of the road
  • Ride on routes appropriate to the child's age and skill level 


Proper helmet alignment

Too far back Too far ahead  Just perfect!

top of page


Since October 1995, all cyclists under the age of 18 years are required to wear a helmet while operating a bicycle, and the chin strap must be securely fastened under the chin. The use of a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of head and brain injury by as much as 85%. Purchase a helmet which meets safety standards. The approval sticker will be inside the helmet and will say CSA (Canadian Standards Association), ANSI (American National Standards Association) or SNELL. Proper Fit Select helmet according to head measurements. Make sure the helmet covers the top of the head and sits level. The front and rear straps should meet just below each ear when tightly adjusted. The chin strap should be snug without pinching. You should be able to slide 2 fingers between the straps and the skin. Use the foam pads included with the helmet so that the helmet will not slide when the head is tilted side to side or front to back.

Bicycle fit and maintenance

Bicycle sizing checklist

  • Make sure the rider can put both feet flat on the ground while straddling the bicycle frame.
  • There should be 7.5 cm. Of space between rider and crossbar.
  • A rider should be able to sit on the seat and balance the bicycle with the tips of their toes resting securely on the ground.
  • Sitting on the seat, the tips of the child's toes should reach the pedal at its lowest position and the knee should be slightly bent in this position.
  • Standard handle bars should be set with the grips at seat level Mechanical Safety Bicycles must be properly equipped and maintained.

See your local bicycle shop or call Children's Health Services for written guidelines.

Handling skills and rules of the road

To be safe children must know how to handle their bike in traffic and to use proper judgment. They need to know how to avoid collisions with cars.

The three main causes of bicycle car collisions are:

  1. Riding out of a driveway without stopping
  2. Failing to stop at a stop sign
  3. Turning left without yielding

Children's Health Services has a video available which is helpful to teach children road safety practices. Bicycle safety rodeos are also a good opportunity to review these skills.

Safe Cycling Routes

Obtain information on cycling paths from your local municipality. Some cycling routes follow quiet ravines while others are in heavy traffic areas. Investigate the cycling paths and bike with your child to determine their ability.

Related Links

Safe Kids CanadaExternal Link

top of page