The earlier kids learn bike safety the safer they’ll be, said Const. Jamie Wasylien, the Port Alberni RCMP’s youth liaison officer.
“When you teach a kid young enough that there’s a safe way to ride a bike and a responsible way to ride a bike, hopefully they carry that through to when they are an adult,” Wasylien said.
It’s especially important with the prevalence of cycling as a form of commuting rather than just for recreation.
“Now that biking to work and biking around the city is more prominent, it’s nice that they’ve been taught the proper hand signal or the proper way to approach a crosswalk or the proper way to go around the vehicle.”
According to the Canadian Bike Helmet Association, children between the ages of five and 14 account for half of the 150 Canadians who die from bike injuries per year.
The ICBC Bike Smarts manual states that “every year, over 50,000 children are seriously injured in bike-related mishaps.”
It’s not just the kids who benefit.
“The importance of teaching the kids the hand signals and to recognize the street signs is obviously for their safety,” Wasylien said.
Kids taking part in the bike rodeo will hopefully keep the bike safety lessons they learn for when they’re adults driving on the roads.
“There’s also an onus on the driver to understand what a bicycle’s going to do and not have to guess,” he said.
“Teaching an adult can be done, of course, but having a good base as a child is always best.”
Wasylien hopes that the parents who came out to the bike rodeo will take away a powerful lesson.
“People need to understand that just because it’s not your daughter or son doesn’t mean it’s not someone else’s,” he said.
“We all have a responsibility as citizens to make sure that kids get home safe if they’re on their bikes.”