Frequently Asked Questions

If you have never ridden a motorcycle before we highly suggest that you take Gearing Up – Introduction. You do not require a motorcycle licence, the time commitment is minimal and you get a full three hours of hands-on experience to determine whether motorcycling is something you would like to pursue. The lessons are pulled directly from Gearing Up M1- Exit so you get a great sense of what will be in store should you decide to pursue the full training course.

Many people start directly with Gearing Up-M1 Exit even with no experience, and since we cover the basics, most people are successful. However, if you want to get a head start or are feeling uncertain, Gearing Up Introduction is your best bet for success. In fact, should you decide after taking Gearing Up – Introduction to register for Gearing Up – M1 Exit, you will be able to apply a $50 credit to the course (within the same season).

We have many people contact us who have earned motorcycle licences in the past, never having taken a road test or having very limited experience. In which case, their goal is not obtaining a licence, but receiving training. For this situation, we recommend taking Gearing Up – M1 Exit as you will learn the necessary skills to drive safely on road. Even if you have some experience, many people find the exercises to be a great refresher. You will also earn a Canada Safety Council certificate upon completion of the course.

We do not rent any protective gear. It is students’ responsibility to come equipped to their chosen course with appropriate gear. Please see the Required Gear section under Helpful Information. Should a student’s equipment not meet our criteria they will not be allowed to continue with the course. In regards to renting our course bikes, the motorcycles we use are not licensed for the road, and many have modifications for safety reasons that do not make them street legal.

Unfortunately, at this time we do not have the capacity to offer private lessons for students.

For Gearing Up Introduction and Gearing Up-M1 Exit, we supply the motorcycles. For insurance purposes, you are required to ride an Ottawa Safety Council motorcycle for the course, not your own.

The Skilled Rider Course and M2 Exit require students to provide their own motorcycles. The OSC does not have vehicles to provide for these courses. Student’s motorcycles must be insured and in good repair.

If you are unsuccessful during the testing portion of Gearing Up – M1 Exit your instructors will recommend one of two courses of action: retest or retrain.

Retesting involves returning to take the skills test, free of charge, on another day within the same season.

Retraining involves retaking the course (practical training only) at a reduced rate within the same season.

They will recommend the option in which they feel you will have the greatest chance of success. As time passes your skills erode, so it is suggested that you retest/retrain as soon as possible.

Depending on your course, we have a variety of locations where practical training takes place, mostly in the west end of Ottawa. For more details on where courses take place, the registration page offers specific information on each training site.

Crossing Guard Program

There are currently Guards stationed at over 199 intersections across the City of Ottawa at both the morning and afternoon bell times.  Guards are in place 30 minutes before the bell times in the morning and 30 minutes after the bell times in the afternoons.  To see all of the Crossing Guards in your neighbourhood see our interactive Google map below.

The City of Ottawa determines which intersections in Ottawa warrant a Crossing Guard and the Ottawa Safety Council then hires, trains equips and manages the Crossing Guards for these intersections!

Parents, school faculty, and concerned citizens often approach us about having a Guard placed at an intersection.  We encourage all of these suggestions to be sent to the City via 

The City collects a list of these suggested intersections throughout the year, until a cut-off date of March 31st.  Over the months of April, May & June they conduct different studies at the intersections on their lists (I.e., speed studies, stopping compliance studies, hazards) as well as pedestrian counts.  The City then looks at all relevant data and determines a score for the intersection.  If the intersection meets the warranting score – it gets a Crossing Guard – and that is where the Ottawa Safety Council comes into play!

Suggested intersections and any supporting data can be sent directly to

All of our Adult Crossing Guards are required to provide us with a clean Police Record Check for Vulnerable Sectors and three character references.  All Adult Crossing Guards undergo a thorough Screening Interview to determine their suitability for the position as well. 

The Adult Crossing Guards undergo in-depth classroom training that covers safe crossing practices, proper positioning & techniques, and important safety precautions, as well as Provincially-mandated training such as Bill 168- Violence and Harassment in the Workplace & Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities.  Finally, new Crossing Guards are paired up with experienced Guards in order to shadow them until they are comfortable taking on their intersection on their own. 

Team Leads regularly visit Guards at their locations to perform site inspections, pedestrian counts, and performance evaluations. 

If you are interested in becoming an Adult Crossing Guard please visit Employment Opportunities.

The Adult Crossing Guards doesn’t have a creed, but they do face some unpleasant environmental conditions in the course of their duties: snow, rain, heat, hail, strong winds, lightening storms and aggressive motorists.

No matter the weather, they are always on duty and ever vigilant to ensure their charges make the journey from curb to curb without incident. Your thanks and appreciation, as well as the knowledge of providing such a valuable community service, are what keep our guards coming back year after year.

If you have a positive story to share about your crossing guard or words of thanks to express your appreciation, please send them to us and we will share your words so that your children’s crossing guard can bask in the acknowledgment they so deserve. 

Thank your guard or share your story here!

The Marie Armstrong Award (formerly known as Ottawa’s Favorite Crossing Guard Award) is presented yearly the Crossing Guard who shows high levels of excellence and dedication to the important role of keeping our community’s children safe. 

The cash prize is generously donated by Marie Armstrong’s family – to honour her memory.  Here is what Marie’s family has to say about her:

“Marie Armstrong was born in a fishing village known as Avondale, Newfoundland, in 1932. At the age of 18, Marie left for Montreal with her new husband. After a few years in the city, she moved to Dollard des Ormeaux in the West Island.

Marie had 6 children, the youngest of which was 20 years younger than the eldest. When her youngest child, Maria, went to first grade at Ecole Dollard des Ormeaux, she saw a crossing guard for the first time. Thinking it would be great to help out, as she was going back and forth to school with Maria daily, she inquired as to how she might volunteer. After registering at the local police station, Marie began her career as a crossing guard. Under the impression that it was a volunteer position, she failed to pick up paychecks for months! While thrilled by the news, she could not believe that she was actually getting paid for something she felt very happy to do.

Over the next 12 years as a crossing guard, she got to know all of the children and their parents well. She knew who needed a hug and who was at risk. She cared deeply for their little souls and never missed a day for fear that some child might need her. Marie, who was affectionately known as “granny” to her 10 grandchildren, and “GG” to her 4 great-grandchildren, never said an unkind word about anybody in her life and was always looking out for children, whether hers or not. We, as her family, are delighted to honour her memory by lending her name to this award.”  – James Miller (Marie’s Grandson)

Junior Leaders Program

Junior Leaders are expected to meet the WSB at the first stop on the route and walk with it daily.  They position themselves at the back, middle and front of the bus, in order to keep an eye on all of the students on the bus and ensure no one veers off course or lags behind.  They are encouraged to assist the very young students by holding their hands and giving them encouragement to keep up.  They are also given an alert whistle and training on the proper scenarios in which to use the whistle, in order to alert the adult Leader to any dangerous situations or incidents that may occur.  The Junior Leaders are instructed to take their position very seriously and to let their adult Leader know if they are going to be absent.

There are many benefits to the Junior Leader program.  These include:


Benefits to “Junior Leaders”: Benefits to the Walking School Bus Program and Participants
An enhanced awareness of pedestrian safety and traffic/environmental hazards Peer to peer modeling of healthy, safe lifestyle.
The acquisition of leadership skills Additional eyes and ears on the Walking School Bus.
The acquisition of teamwork skills Assistance for the adult Leaders.
A sense of pride, purpose, and responsibility.  Increased awareness of Walking School Bus program in the school community.
Increased physical activity & FUN! Increased awareness of benefits of safe, active transportation among “tweens”

Grade 4’s and 5’s that attend schools that have a Walking School Bus program will be invited to apply to be a Junior Leader in April/May for the following school year.  The application forms are forwarded to the Principal/VP and four of the strongest candidates are chosen and invited to attend the training.  Training occurs before the end of the school year and Junior Leaders will be ready to start their duties in the Fall when school is back in session.

Junior Leaders are provided with a Handbook and undergo a 3-hour training session that includes the following:

  • A review of the roles of the Junior Leader & Behavior Expectations while on Duty,
  • An overview of Crosswalk and Pedestrian Safety,
  • Procedures for walking along with students
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Leadership Skills
  • A review of basic conflict resolution techniques and guidance techniques for working with children
  • Small group practice

Junior Leaders are present on the WSB in order to assist the adult WSB Leaders.  Ultimately, it is the adult WSB Leaders who are responsible for supervising the activities of the Junior Leaders.  Junior Leader training stresses the importance of modeling safe behaviours to the younger students, as well as emphasizes the importance of not abusing the position of authority they are in or being a bully to the younger students.  Finally, Junior Leaders are trained to alert the adult Leader to emergency situations or behavioural issues so that the adult Leader may step in and deal with the situation.  Junior Leaders are not expected to discipline younger students or deal with injuries/children acting up.

Junior Leaders receive their equipment at the training session.  They are given their very own orange retro-reflective vest and an alert whistle.  The training also covers the importance of caring for their equipment and when it is appropriate to use the alert whistle.