Manitoba

Winnipeg Bike Week: Flaming Cheetahs teach children cycling skills

Jamie Hilland would rather see his kids riding their bikes on the road than the sidewalk. The father of three is part of a family biking club called the Flaming Cheetahs.

Kids need to know cycling rules, father says

Jamie and Ada Hilland are ready for the road after learning bike skills as part of the Flaming Cheetahs children's cycling club. (Pat Kaniuga/CBC)

Jamie Hilland would rather see his kids riding their bikes on the road than the sidewalk.

The father of three is part of a family biking club called the Flaming Cheetahs, which works with kids to make sure they have the confidence, skills and experience to ride safely on Winnipeg streets.

"Our club is concerned with teaching the kids, if we are going to put them on the road, which is the law, that they learn how to properly signal and lane position and be visible and interact with traffic because, as we know, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities that vehicles do," Hilland said.

Hilland said Bike Week is a good time to talk about the rules of the road. There are almost 15,000 people who commute by bike in Winnipeg each day, an increase of 20 per cent since 2007, according to Bike Week's website.

Hilland said lots of kids use bikes to get to school and are being sent out without road skills.

"Motorists do not expect people on bikes to come flying off the sidewalks," he said.

The Cheetahs start to train kids when they are around five years old with hand signals, as well as riding on residential and secondary routes. As the children get older, the routes become more difficult.

"We ride in a big cluster with the Cheetahs, so Winnipeg motorists are generally very respectful of children and will give them a lot of room, which is a nice thing to see," he said.

His daughter Ada, 6, is happy to have the confidence to be behind the handle bars. 

"I like to bike to The Forks," she said. 

There are different events scheduled for the third annual Bike Week, which runs until Bike to Work Day on Friday.

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