Bicycles and small wheels
Cycling and using small wheeled devices are a great way for families to get physical, have fun and reduce car emissions. However it’s important to that all riders keep themselves and those around them safe, particularly children.
From July 2006 to June 2016, 14,290 children presented to PMH ED for cycling or wheeled pedestrian injuries, accounting for 71.7% of road-related injuries in children aged 0- 16 years.
- Make sure your child always wears a helmet when riding to help protect their head in case of a fall.
- Keep left on the paths and look out for any hazards, such as vehicles entering and exiting driveways. Encourage your child to approach driveways with caution and always stop, look, listen and think before crossing a road.
- Always supervise your child. Children under 10 do not have the experience to be left unsupervised on bicycles or other wheeled devices.
- Ensure that the product your child is riding is of good quality and has effective braking mechanisms and locks.
- Protective equipment such as wrist guards can offer extra support and protection, as wrists are often put out to break a fall. Knee and elbow pads also give additional protection as these areas are frequently hit areas during falls.
- Dress to be seen. Wear high visibility clothing and bright colours.
- Be a role model. Your behaviour is how your child learns, so set a good example, keep safe, and follow the road rules!
Cycling is a fun activity your whole family can enjoy. When purchasing bicycles and planning outings the choices you make keep them safe:
- Make sure your child is using a bike that is the right size. Their feet should touch the ground on both sides to make sure they can stop themselves in case of an emergency.
- Ensure the bicycle has adequate safety features such as spokes, chain guards, lights, reflectors and a bell or horn.
- Learn the road rules to set a good example and safe cycling habits onto your child.
- Set rules for outings and always supervise your child. Most cycling injuries don’t involve another vehicle, but occur when children fall off their bike after crashing into a pole, curb or fence.
Before you go for a ride run a quick bike safety check to ensure your bike is in good condition to ride. Encourage children to perform this check prior to riding. The check can be simplified to an ‘ABC (D)’ check:
A= Air. Check that the tyres are pumped up before going out. Show children how to squeeze the tyre to determine if it is adequately filled with air (it should feel like an inflated basketball). Children can learn how to inflate the tyre using a bike pump if required.
B= Brakes. Ask children to check the brakes are in good working order by rolling the bike forward and putting on the brakes so that the bike stops completely. The brake pads should be in good repair and contact only the steel rim of the wheel.
C= Chain. Have a look over the chain to make sure there’s nothing caught in it or obstructing it. If possible, push the pedals around backwards to ensure that the chain is running smoothly. If you’re unable to do this then lift the back wheel off the ground and push the pedals around a few times to ensure that the chain is running smoothly. Children may need assistance with this.
(D) Drop test. You can also do the drop test. Lift the bike approximately 10cm off the ground and gently drop it. It should not make any unusual noises or have any parts fly away or move about. The seat should stay in place. Adults should assist children with this check.
Wheeled pedestrians refer to people riding scooters, ripsticks, skateboards, roller blades and other small wheeled devices. They are legally allowed to use footpaths and shared paths but must keep left and give way to pedestrians.
Excessive speeds on small wheeled devices can become dangerous. Ensure children don’t ride too fast and that they maintain control when riding. Helmets and protective equipment is recommended to reduce the occurrence of serious injury in the event of a fall.
Lack of experience can result in collisions and loss of control. Providing your child a safe and legal place to develop their skills is the best way to ensure your child is well protected and supervised. Skateboarding WA offer free all ages clinics all over WA with skateboards and helmets provided.
Skate parks offer a smooth scoot or ride away from roads. Indoor skate centres and rollerdromes are also a good way to allow your child to socialise with other children, learn proper techniques and keep themselves safe. Check out the BuggyBuddys guide to family-friendly skate parks in Perth.
Helmets should be worn when cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, roller skating and using micro-scooters. Making sure your child wears a helmet from the moment they start using ride-on toys not only reduces the chances of head injury but instils correct safety behaviour from a young age.
Between 2006 to 2016, just under 20% of children on bikes and 5% of children on other small wheeled devices that presented to Princess Margaret Hospital Emergency Department (PMH ED) with injuries were recorded as wearing helmets. This highlights the importance of parents and caregivers supervising children and reinforcing the wearing a helmet.
Legally, all cyclists must wear a correctly fitted and Australian Standards approved helmet when riding a bike on the road, footpath or cycle path. This includes children using training wheels, sitting in a bike trailer or a baby seat. The helmet must be fitted correctly to ensure maximum comfort and protection and worn without a hat or any other obstruction on your head.
Helmet fit tips:
- Helmets should be AS/NZA 2063 standard to ensure they offer effective protection
- Have your child test that the helmet is two finger widths above their eyebrow.
- The side strap should form a v-shape around the bottom of your child’s ears
- The strap under your child’s chin should fit snuggly when secured with no more than one finger able to fit under the strap
- Once secured, your child’s helmet should not be able to be pushed backwards or forwards. If the helmet does not appear to fitting correctly, choose a different size.
Wrist guards are designed to strengthen the wrist to reduce the risk of serious damage or broken bones. Serious injury can happen quickly and easily. A child losing their balance and putting out their hand to break their fall is common and broken wrists or arms are the most frequent serious injury among skateboard riders, roller bladers and micro-scooter users.
Knee and elbow guards are designed to protect these vulnerable parts of a child’s body which research shows are common points of contact when children fall. They are very important for skateboarding - skateboarders and roller bladers commonly land on their elbows and knees. This type of fall is also likely with scooter users.
Cyclists and wheeled pedestrians of all ages are allowed to ride on footpaths and shared paths in WA. When riding on the footpath or a shared pathway, you must ride single file and give way to pedestrians and others using the paths. Cyclists may also ride on cycle paths, which are to be ridden on exclusively by bicycles.
Begin with teaching your kids to:
- Always look out for vehicles when riding, particularly those that may be entering and exiting driveways
- Signal your intentions of stopping or turning by using hand signals and ringing your bell when overtaking pedestrians
- Understand when it is safe to cross the road and to avoid riding on busy streets or riding at night.
- Dismount and walk their bikes and small wheeled devices when crossing the street, crosswalk or railway crossings.
Check out RAC's guide to family friendly bike rides in Perth.
Bikes are required by law to have a red rear reflector (usually found under the seat) and yellow side reflectors on the wheels and pedals at all times to ensure maximum visibility. If riding at night or in conditions with poor visibility, bikes must also have a white front light visible for 200m in front of the bicycle and a solid or flashing red rear light visible for 200m behind the bike. It is also recommended that bright or reflective clothing be worn when riding to ensure maximum visibility.
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