Bicycle safety

Bicycles and Other Devices

Most cycling injuries don’t involve another vehicle, but occur when children fall off their bike after crashing into a pole, curb or fence. Head injuries are the main cause of death and disability to cyclists. Bike helmets help reduce injury. 

Every child needs a helmet even if you are not riding on the road or they are being supervised by an adult (All Helmets should meet AS/NZS 2063)

Helmets

To be effective a helmet has to be well fitting and has to be used. Helmets should be worn when cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, roller skating and using micro-scooters.

Helmet Fit

Measure the child’s head before purchasing in order to select the correct size.

The helmet should fit firmly on the head with the chinstrap securely fastened.

Do the push test once fastened. If the helmet can be pushed back and forwards then it won’t protect the front or the back of the head in a fall. The helmet is too big.

The Bike

Make sure the bike fits: A bike that is too big or small is a safety hazard. How to check: have your child sit on his/her bike; at least the toes should touch the ground on both sides.

Do equipment spot checks: Parents should ensure their child’s bicycle is equipped with safety devices such as lights (AS3562), reflectors (AS2142) and a bell or horn. Helmets should be approved for safety with an Australian Standards (AS2063) certification.

Be a role model: Set a good example when cycling with your children and wear a helmet too - it is required by law!

Make bikes Safer: Buy safe bicycles, with spoke guards & chain guards; Ensure a bike lamp is used at dusk or at night; Fit safety devices to bicycles such as reflectors and safety flags.

Tips for safe cycling

  • Ensure Supervised Riding: Children under age ten should cycle with responsible adults. Most children in that age group do not have the skills to cycle safely without supervision & on road.
  • Learn the rules of the Road: Make sure children are taught the rules of the road for safe cycling practices before they are allowed to ride by themselves.
  • Know the dangers of the driveway: Children should know the driveway is dangerous and can pose a safety risk. They should always stop before entering the road, scan by looking in all directions, listen & think about if it is safe to cross the road. Do not encourage children to ride their bikes in the driveway.
  • Wear bright coloured clothing: Cyclists should wear bright coloured clothing or use a visibility vest so they stand out and are easy to see.
  • For young cyclists, a footpath or shared path is the best place to cycle, unless a no bicycles sign is on display. The Road Traffic code 2000 allows children under 12 to ride on footpaths, but remember that driveways are dangerous.
  • Children should avoid riding on busy streets and riding at night.
  • Help children understand when it is safe to cross the road.
  • Teach children to walk their bikes when crossing the street, crosswalk or railway crossings.
  • Riding with children as passengers.
  • Kids’ bike seats and trailers that attach to a parent’s bike provide easy transportation of young children, while parents enjoy all the benefits of riding.

When is my child ready?

Your child’s neck and back must be strong enough to support their head and the extra weight of a helmet while riding. They must also be able to cope with the additional forces experienced when speeding up, slowing down and bouncing over bumps or potholes. Kidsafe NT recommends against taking a child under 12 months on a bike or in a bike trailer. 

By law, your child must wear a properly fitted helmet when on a bike seat or in a trailer. In the event of a crash, the helmet protects your child’s head from impact with the ground and the bike, bike seat or trailer frame. The helmet must not force the child into an uncomfortable position. If the helmet forces the child’s head forward, they may be too young. 

Bicycle safety tips

  • Ensure the seat or trailer is securely fixed to the bike before putting the child in the seat. If you are not sure, get a bike shop to install the carrier.
  • Make sure the bike is stable before putting the child in, or taking them out of, a rear or front mounted seat. 
  • Never leave a child unattended in a bicycle-mounted child seat.
  • Make sure the child wears a properly fitting helmet and harness at all times.
  • Ride conservatively to take account of the longer braking distances and reduced manoeuvrability due to the extra weight.
  • Make sure you have full control of the bike and child before riding in public areas. Test ride before you take the bike into busy areas.
  • Don’t use a baby backpack or sling while riding your bike. These make you less stable and, if you crash, the child has much further to fall and you might fall on them.
  • Always look for Bike seats, carriers and helmets that carry an Australian Standard.

Skateboards, Inline Skates, Roller Skates & Micro-scooters

Falls are the most common cause of injuries so far with these products, although there have been reports of injuries resulting from collisions with other people and objects. Most falls are the result of simple loss of control.

Identify safe and legal venues, which may be on private property, or venues specifically set aside for skating. Check with the local council for skate parks in the area.

A roller drome offers a smooth scoot ride away from roads. Check with your local roller drome or Skate Centre to find out if they offer lessons. Learning how to fall safely is critical in reducing the risk of injury. 

Bicycle Safety is Simple

  • Avoid poorly made products.
  • Purchase and use protective equipment, helmet and wrist, elbow and knee guards.
  • Learn to ride and practice in a safe place such as a dual footpath away from roads, driveways and slopes. 
  • Use in a safe manner-pedestrians have right of way so keep left and give way.