Nearly three hundred cyclists are hit on Ottawa roads every year.  Some of those collisions are deadly. 

Learning to keep yourself safe on a bike starts young. And that is the aim behind a day camp in Ottawa that targets little cyclists.  It's called "Pedalheads." 

There are a lot of bumps and bruises along the road to learning bicycle safety.

But the rewards are plenty.  Six-year-old Nathan Mahidhara took a little spill on his bike during a lesson at the Alta Vista day camp of the Pedalheads.  He got a little bandaid, a high five from Pedalheads Coordinator Rachel Powers, and a life-long lesson in staying safe.

“I fell off,” Nathan said, big tears rolling down his cheeks, “I was going too fast.”

Learning through practice is the intent behind the Pedalheads course.  Started in Vancouver 25 years ago, it's taken off across North America, with 5 camps here in Ottawa.

“We teach kids to be vigilant, to be aware, to be signaling and always checking,” says Powers, “and there are a lot of adults who don't do that and could definitely who could start or do that more often.”

The kids, aged 3 to 12, learn to move from training wheels to two wheels, how to maneuver over bumpy roads and paths and how to signal.

6-year-old Zander Lee Kwan has it down pat, “This is for turning right, this is for turning left and then a shoulder check.”

A few of the students believe adults could learn a lot from these classes.  And several Ottawa cyclists would agree.

“I could be better, more careful,” says one woman, as she walks her bike alongside her daughter, “I didn’t wear a helmet today.”

As for those hand signals, it could be a lesson in itself.

“This is for right,” says one man, as he points left, “and this is for left,” he adds, as he points right, “and this for stopping, I think,” pointing downwards at a 90 degree angle.

“This is left,” adds his friend, pointing up, “and this is left,” he says, as he signals to stop, “and this is for stopping,” making a right-hand signal.

Instructor Sam Foster with Pedalheads explains how it is supposed to work.

“We have a left hand signal which is when you put your arm out to the left.  We have a right hand signal, when you put your arm out to the right, which can be confusing because some have learned it another way, pointing your arm up at 90 degrees, but both are proper and we have a stop signal which is when you put your arm down at 90 degrees.”

But perhaps the best lesson of all is just enjoying the ride.

“I love biking,” adds a 6-year-old in the Pedal Heads class as he pedals away with delight.

Pedalheads is offering courses for three more weeks this summer at camps in Nepean, Kanata and Alta Vista.  For information, call 1-888-886-6464 or