3 tips to help you cycle safely this summer

“Braking” news: cycling holds the number 2 spot on the ParticipACTION 150 Play List. Although Play List activities aren’t numbered based on their popularity, cycling is certainly a mainstream activity in Canada and around the world.

You barely have to get your wheels turning to brainstorm the benefits of cycling. It’s a great way to be physically active outdoors (or indoors, on a stationary bike or trainer). It’s a form of active transportation that is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. It’s an all-ages activity that is fun for the whole family, including little ones in an age-appropriate bike seat or trailer. You can explore new areas and cover more ground than if you were walking. Finally, it’s a lifelong skill that helps develop balance, spatial awareness, muscle tone and endurance.

Here are some tips from Cycling Canada to make your recreational cycling experiences safe and enjoyable:

KEEP YOUR HEAD ON

Cyclists of all ages should wear a bike helmet during every ride. Luckily, helmets now come in a variety of cool-looking styles and colours, especially for kids. Any helmet that has taken the impact from a fall or spill should be replaced with a new one.

A helmet should be worn level, not tilted back or forward. As a sizing test, place your fingers flat against your forehead, above your eyebrow. If you can fit more than two fingers in the space between your eyebrow and the bottom edge of the helmet, the helmet is too small. Conversely, a helmet is too large if it fits loosely and allows your head to move around within it.

The straps should always be fastened snugly enough to prevent the helmet from shifting around on your head. The side straps should create a “V” shape just below each ear. Only one finger should be able to fit between the chin strap and your chin.

DON’T GET YOUR SIGNALS CROSSED

Just like cars, cyclists must signal their intentions before making a turn. A left-hand turn is indicated by an outstretched left arm. There are two accepted ways to show an upcoming right-hand turn. The more traditional option is to lift the left arm, bent at a 90-degree angle, like a letter “L”. An alternate right-turn signal is to extend the right arm, just as a car’s signal blinks on the side of the turn it will be making. To warn motorists that you will be stopping, bend your left arm at a downward 90-degree angle with your hand open.

Cyclists are expected to ride on the road, not the sidewalk. This helpful video from the Manitoba Cycling Association uses video game-inspired graphics to illustrate the correct practices for cycling alongside vehicles.

LET IT RIDE

For further guidance about how to cycle safely and effectively, the CAN-BIKE program offers instruction at a variety of progressive levels. CAN-BIKE courses may be offered through your local community association, municipal department, service group or independent instructor. CAN-BIKE graduates report that they are more confident navigating through traffic and use their bikes more frequently after completing a course.

You can also look for bike safety demonstrations, community “bike rodeos” or other special events in your area. In celebration of the 150 Play List, Cycling Canada is hosting a Fun Ride event at the 2017 Global Relay Canadian Road Championships in Ottawa on June 25. Participants will get to pedal alongside elite Canadian cyclists for a 5K or 10K ride, visit a bike decorating station and receive a bike mechanic tutorial. For more information, visit cyclingcanada.ca.

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Win Big This Summer

The only thing better than an active summer is one where you could win prizes! If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for the 150 Play List and track your activities as you complete them for chances to win gift cards, trips for two with Fairmont across Canada, and even a brand-new Chevrolet vehicle.