Bicycle Safety

Riding a bike is a fun way to get around, and has benefits to your students’ health and the environment, too. Just like drivers, cyclists have rules to follow to keep safe while sharing the road with cars, pedestrians, and fellow bike riders.

Read on for lesson plans, bike safety rules, equipment guidelines and tips for riding.

Lesson Plans by Grade level

Your Gear


  • A bike should fit its rider – one that is too big or too small cannot be controlled properly.
  • The bike should be legally ready to ride: all bikes need lights, reflective strips, and a bell.
  • Keep your bicycle in good repair.


  • The best helmet is one that fits properly, is worn correctly and has been manufactured to meet strict safety standards. Look for a safety standards sticker meeting the approval of safety organizations such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Snell, ANSI, ASTM, BSI, CPSC and SAA.
  • Follow the 2V1 rule for proper helmet fitting:
    • There should be two finger widths between your eyebrows and the helmet.
    • The straps should be flat against the face.
    • The side straps should meet just below the ear making a V-shape under your ear lobe.
    • The chin strap should be fastened snugly with enough room to fit one finger between your chin and the strap.
  • A helmet works by absorbing the forces of a crash, so if the helmet has been in a collision, it should be replaced even if there is no visible damage.
  • Every cyclist under the age of 18 must wear an approved bicycle helmet in Ontario, by law.

Clothing and Accessories

  • Clothing can improve or reduce visibility. Yellow and white stand out best at night; dark colours are difficult to see.
  • Pedal reflectors and reflective material on wrists, ankles, heels, clothing and helmets help others see you.
  • Always wear closed-toe footwear on a bicycle.
  • Do not wear headphones while riding a bicycle – it’s important to stay alert while on the road.


  • By law, your bicycle must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector when you ride between one-half hour before sunset and one-half hour after sunrise.
  • The law requires white reflective strips on the front forks and red reflective strips on the rear stays of your bicycle.

Bells and Horns

  • By law, all bikes must have a working bell or horn to announce your approach.
  • Bicycles are very quiet vehicles, so it is important to warn other cyclists and pedestrians that you’re coming.
  • It can be just as effective and more courteous to shout something like “passing on the left” when overtaking other cyclists and pedestrians.

On the Road


  • Learning how to safely ride a bicycle takes practice.
  • After practicing safe cycling skills you can try a road test to review.

Straight Line Riding

  • Riding in a straight line is the key to riding safely in traffic. Ride in the same direction as traffic on the right side of the road.
  • To practice, try following a painted line in a parking lot. Try not to move your upper body as you pedal – let your legs do the work.
  • When riding with a buddy, ride in single file.

Looking Behind You

  • To make a safe turn in traffic, you have to look over your shoulder.
  • Looking backwards can make it difficult to maintain a straight line. Practice your straight line riding in a parking lot while checking behind you over both shoulders.

Hand Signals

  • Know appropriate hand signals to indicate your intentions to drivers, pedestrians and fellow cyclists.
  • Always using your left arm, hold it out straight for left, up for right, and down with your palm facing back for “slow down.”
  • Make certain it is safe to turn before moving by doing an over-the-shoulder check.

Shifting Gears

  • Shift into a low, easy gear before you stop.
  • Use low, easy gears when going up hills. Shift into lower gears before you begin to work too hard.
  • Use higher, harder gears when you begin to bounce on the seat from pedalling too fast. Avoid pedalling slowly and pushing hard in your highest gears.

Crossing the Road

  • Stop for all stop signs.
  • Stop at all intersections and before crossing driveways, paths and sidewalks.