Children and cycling

Children should be taught that cyclists must follow the same rules as vehicles. As adults, we often take for granted that children know how traffic works and what signs mean. Practice and experience, combined with adult supervision, will reinforce good cycling behaviour. Parents can set a good example by wearing bike helmets themselves.

Is your child ready to cycle to school without an adult?

Your child wants to ride a bicycle to school and you're worried. Keep in mind that children under the age of nine don’t have the skills to cycle safely without adult supervision and that all cyclists under 18 must wear a helmet. Consider these other factors:

Can your child handle a bicycle well enough to:

  • Check over his or her shoulder while travelling in a straight line 
  • Brake quickly and confidently to stop at a predetermined point 
  • Ride with one hand while displaying clear hand signals

Can your child demonstrate these skills:

  • The ability to gauge the speed of other vehicles
  • Knows right from left
  • The ability to concentrate on a task and avoid distractions
  • The ability to lock up the bicycle on his or her own

Does your child understand the rules of the road, such as:

  • What yield means and where he or she is expected to do so 
  • What "right of way" means 
  • What cycling-related road signs mean and where to look for them

For more information on how to get your children ready to cycle, contact the Envirocentre at 613-580-2424, ext. 27399 or Safe Kids Canada at 1-888-SAFE-TIPS. Consider enrolling your child in a CAN BIKE class with the City.

Taking your child with you

 There are many options for bringing children on a bike trip. The best option for you depends on the age of your child.


Don’t cycle with infants who do not have sufficient neck strength to hold their heads up while wearing a helmet. Wait until your child is able to sit up on his or her own and can wear a properly fitted, certified bicycle helmet.


Transport toddlers in a bicycle trailer or in a seat mounted to the bicycle frame. Always make sure your toddler is wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet and that the equipment is firmly secured to the bicycle.


Bicycle trailers offer a more stable and secure environment for your toddler. Unfortunately, trailers are less visible and your child is farther away from you. Attach an orange safety flag to the trailer for greater visibility and try to ride with another adult behind the trailer.

Rear-mounted seats

A rear-mounted seat brings your child closer to you when cycling. However, these seats shift the bicycle's centre of gravity and can make it unstable. Parents who wish to use a rear-mounted seat should first practice riding with a weight comparable to the child's in the seat. A good seat has a high back, a lap and shoulder harness, and foot guards to protect feet from the spokes.

Front-mounted seats

Front-mounted seats vary in design and placement on the bicycle. Avoid seats mounted to the handlebars, as these can disrupt steering control. Other front-mounted seats that attach to both the seat and handlebar stems are more stable and keep your child in front of you, allowing for a more watchful eye on the child and the road.

Young children

Young children can ride on their own or with mom and dad using a trailer-bike. This device attaches to the seat post and transforms an adult bicycle into a tandem bike for kids. It is especially useful for longer trips where young children don't have the stamina to ride on their own. Remember that children should wear a properly fitted, certified bicycle helmet when using a trailer-bike or cycling on their own.