Healthy Living and Seniors

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Bike Safety

Why is it Important to Wear a Bike Helmet?

  • Cycling is a great way to be active with the whole family, but it also has its risks, from minor bike crashes with scrapes and bruises to more serious injuries involving broken bones or head injuries.
  • Every year in Manitoba approximately 158 cyclists are hospitalized for cycling related injuries, with several resulting in serious injury or death. About 34% of these injuries occur to cyclists under the age of 18.
  • Head injuries are the most common cause of bicycle related deaths. 
  • Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle has proven to reduce the risk of serious head and brain injury by more than 85 per cent.
There are many ways to increase bike safety for you and your family while cycling:

Manitoba Bike Helmet Safety

(take the course for first-ticket
dismissal or for education only)

Bike Safety and Manitoba Bike
Helmet Safety Course Contact

Ph: 204-945-3648
Toll-free: 1-866-788-3648

Bike helmets

As of May 1, 2013 a law took effect in Manitoba that makes it compulsory for cyclists or passengers under the age of 18 to wear a suitable helmet while cycling or riding on or in anything attached to or towed by a bicycle.  While this legislation does not make it compulsory for cyclists over the age of 18 to wear a helmet, adults are encouraged to do so to reduce the chance of head injuries and to act as positive role models for children.

Parents and guardians are responsible to ensure their children are wearing bicycle helmets when cycling. If you are the parent of someone under 18 that is not wearing a bike helmet while cycling, you can be ticketed under The Highway Traffic Act.

This law also provides an alternative to paying a fine, for cyclists who have received their first ticket for not wearing a helmet. They can take the Manitoba Bike Helmet Safety Course and have their fine dismissed. The course provides cyclists with important safety information about bike helmets.

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).

**Effective May 1, 2013, bicycle helmets are exempt from provincial sales tax; no age restriction applies.

Bicycle helmet observation studies, both prior to and after introducing legislation, have shown that helmet use has increased significantly. Helmet wearing rates among children and youth cyclists in Winnipeg improved from 31% in 2012 to 61% in 2013; in Rural Manitoba, helmet use also significantly increased, from 44% in 2012 to 78% in 2013. These increases suggest that bicycle helmet legislation has had a positive effect on the number of cyclists choosing to wear helmets in Manitoba.

Be a role model for your children and wear your helmet every time you cycle. And make sure that the children in your family are protected and always wear a certified helmet when riding their bikes.

"Don't get busted" bike helmet brochure pdf

"Don't get busted" bike helmet poster pdf

Proper helmet fit and its lifespan

  • It is important to wear a bicycle helmet correctly. Not too loose or sitting too far back on your head. A helmet that is worn incorrectly may actually increase your chance of injury while riding a bicycle.
  • Use this easy 2V1 rule as a technique when putting on your helmet before you hit the road:
    • With your helmet sitting level on your head you should have no more than "2" fingers between your eyebrows and the bottom of the helmet
    • The side straps should form a "V" shape just below your ears
    • Adjust the chin strap so only "1" finger fits between your chin and the strap.

A certified helmet will last 3 to 5 years, depending on use. But, if your helmet has been in a crash, or damaged, you need to replace it with a new one.

2v1 bookmark
print version of bookmark pdf

Understanding injuries happen anywhere

Injuries can happen anywhere - close to home, on the sidewalk or side streets. Research shows that cyclists are more vulnerable to injury at intersections and on multi-lane roads. For children and youth, most bike injuries happen due to:

  • Speed
  • Inattention/distractions
  • Failure to yield
  • No helmet
  • Alcohol/substance use

Riding Together

Most young children, particularly under the age of 10, do not have the maturity and skill to cycle safely alone. Younger children should always cycle with a parent or guardian, especially in traffic.

The links below are intended to help parents make safe choices in selecting outdoor equipment and ensure that they are using it safely.

Riding a bike that fits and is in working condition

  • A person should be able to comfortably straddle a boy's version of their bike with both feet flat on the ground. If a girl's bike is preferred, simply ask the retailer for a girl's version in the same size - but after fitting is complete.
  • Don't buy a bike that is too big for your child, thinking they will 'grow into it'. By doing so, you might increase their chance of injury while riding their bicycle.
  • Many cyclists ride bikes with seats that are too low. If the seat is at the correct height a person's leg will be straight when sitting on the saddle, with their heel on the pedal, at the bottom of the stroke.
  • Check to ensure handle bars are at a comfortable level.
  • Make sure that the bicycle wheels are on tight and that the brakes are working.

Learning and following the rules of the road

Bicycles and tricycles are vehicles. Riders must obey road signs and traffic rules just like people driving cars, trucks and buses.

  • Learn about using hand signals to let drivers know when you are stopping or turning.
  • Understand how traffic flows and remember that as vehicles, bikes should always drive on the right side of the road.
  • Everyone in the family riding a bicycle should understand all road signs.

For more information, Manitoba Public Insurance has published an "I Cycle Safely" pdf brochure for children and youth, and a "Bike Safely" pdf booklet for adults on learning and following the rules of the road.

Be visible

Take steps to be visible while riding your bicycle:

  • Wear bright coloured clothing in the daylight (consider fluorescent colours) and wear reflective clothing at night.
  • Use a white light on the front and a red or amber light or reflector on the back of your bicycle.
  • A reflective strip around your ankle will make you even more visible as a cyclist.

Important links and resources

For more information about biking safely, check out the Manitoba Local Government Active Transportation web portal for information on a safe cycling program in your community. Ask your school, local police service or community club about local bike safety programs for your children.

Cycling Safety Facts:

Bike Helmet Safety Video

To view the Traffic Skills 101 & Bike Handling Skills 101 videos click on the following links.

Traffic Skills 101 (English only)

Bike Handling Skills 101 (English only)