Cycling Safety Education

In 2017, Heart Niagara was awarded a $73,943 two-year grant from the Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund (OSRCF) to deliver Cycling Safety Education (CSE) programming for Grade 5 & 6 students (ages 9-11) throughout Niagara. Since then, we have been working with community partners such as Niagara Region Public Health, Niagara Student Transportation Services, School Boards, Active Transportation groups, Bike Niagara, Niagara Regional Police, CAA Niagara, Rotary Club of Lincoln, Broken Spoke, Bikes for Farmworkers-NOTL, CAN-BIKE cycling instructors, municipalities, and many others, to implement the program in the schools & community.

CSE educates children about cycling safely to school and throughout the community by helping them develop fundamental safe cycling skills. This will increase opportunities for children to cycle and help make cycling a lifelong form of daily physical activity that they can use for both recreation and transportation purposes. Increasing access to safe cycling gear is also an important part of this. To date, the program was piloted in 9 schools and 5 community groups across 10 municipalities.

During CSE, students undergo:

  • An in-class session reviewing important topics related to bike safety such as hand signals, required safety gear, bicycle/helmet fit, and rules of the road
  • An on-tarmac cycling session (Bike Rodeo), led by our nationally certified CAN-BIKE instructors (Canada’s leading cycling education program), where students get the opportunity to practice their safe cycling skills (i.e. straight line riding, shoulder checks, signalling, braking, etc.), learn how to check equipment for safety, and play fun cycling games. This session also includes time for a bike mechanic to check the safety of the student’s bikes and do minor repairs. Instructor will also inspect the condition of the student’s helmets and other safety gear, as well as assess student’s skill development
  • An on-road cycling session (guided group ride led by instructors) on a quiet residential street to further build student’s confidence and cycling skills on the roadway, as well as better understand traffic patterns.

The goal of CSE is to teach children about the importance of road safety through experiential learning and provide them with a channel to acquire the skills they need to safely and confidently operate their bicycle on the roadway, as a legal vehicle. We believe that when children become confident in their own cycling abilities, they are more inclined to cycle on a regular basis, which will encourage them to live healthy and active lives. Bicycles are also an important part of today’s traffic scene, which is why safety should be the number one priority for the people riding them. By educating youth about bicycle safety, we are making a significant contribution to ensuring a safe environment for them to grow and for everyone to live in!

If you are interested in joining our CSE Working Group, becoming a cycling instructor, booking a school or  community bike rodeo, or have any other inquiries about the program, please contact Victoria La Fratta at victoria.lafratta@heartniagara.com.

*Please note: In order to participate in the bike rodeos, students are required to bring a bike in good working condition and a certified bike helmet. Bikes and helmets may be provided by Heart Niagara upon request (advance notice is necessary).

Resources


Funding for our Cycling Safety Education Project was provided by: