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BE GOOD ‘ROLL’ MODELS

- Cycling Safety is Essential for Helping Protect Children From Serious Injuries, Health Unit Says -

Local families are being given a heads up on safety before they ride on their bikes this spring.

To mark Safe Kids Week (May 4-10), the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is promoting the importance of cycling safety. While cycling is a great way for families to be active and spend time together, there is also a need to use caution, says Shelley Shaughnessy, a Family Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit.

“Cycling is a leading cause of unintentional injuries that land children under 14 years of age in hospital,” she says. “It’s important to realize that while cycling is an excellent way to have fun and be active, we need to create a safe cycling experience for everyone.”

Adults should model safe cycling practices, especially for very young children, Shaughnessy adds. As she notes: “Get young children into the habit of wearing a bike helmet, right from the time they start to ride their tricycle or bike with training wheels. Children learn from watching, so adults can be role models to create good cycling habits for the next generation.”

Local residents are encouraged to consider the following cycling safety tips:

Protect children’s heads by getting them to wear bike helmets on any wheeled item, whether it is a bike, scooter or skateboard. A properly-fitted and correctly-worn bike helmet can make a dramatic difference, cutting the risk of serious head injuries by up to 80 per cent (Parachute Canada). To ensure a child’s helmet fits right, follow the ‘2V1 Rule.’ A helmet should be two-fingers’ width above a child’s eyebrow; straps should form a ‘V’ under a child’s ears; and one finger should fit between the helmet strap and child’s chin.

• Check the ride. For children, a fun, safe cycling experience starts with a properly-equipped bike. Ensure bikes are adjusted to the recommended height for the rider, tires are inflated and brakes are working properly. Bikes should also have proper reflectors and lights.

• Supervise children under the age of nine years. Because young children do not yet have the cognitive ability to judge distance and the speed of traffic, they should be supervised by an adult when riding a bicycle.

Stick to sidewalks. Sidewalks are the best place for young children to ride their bikes. For youth over 14 years of age, designated cycling lanes are the best place for riding.
• Be prepared. Use appropriate hand signals and obey traffic signs. Training in bicycle safety can also help. Cycling Canada’s CAN-BIKE program offers courses for all ages.

Make the ‘right’ choice. Tell children who are old enough to ride on the road to stick to the right – the same direction as traffic is going – and stay as far right as possible.

• Use your bell. Ensure bikes are equipped with a bell to announce when passing. If not, use your voice.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Shelley Shaughnessy, Family Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1272,

or Heather Grundy, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100or 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1488.

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