Cycling is great exercise for everyone including children and can be a great fun, family day out. As the cost of driving increases cycling becomes an increasingly attractive travel option, so why not give cycling with the kids to school a try and think about encouraging cycling as a life skill to take them through their years as they gain independence.
There are many options for cycling with children depending on the abilities of the child. You can use seats that fit to your bike, tag-alongs (which are like part of a child’s bike which fits to the back of an adult’s bike which the child sits on), or trailers which can carry one or two children. There are also many different types and sizes of children’s bike for independent cycling. Balance bikes, where the child uses their feet to push themselves along, are a great way for young children to gain their balance and confidence before moving onto a bike with pedals. This option is often a quicker way to learn to cycle, it can be used from a young age depending on the child and won’t require the child to move onto stabilisers, they can go straight from a balance bike to a normal children’s bike.
When cycling with children, either attached to your bike or independently, try to talk to them and pass on the skills of cycling. Try playing games to listen for traffic, guess if it’s a car, van, bus, etc, get them to copy you when signalling or if they are older ask them when they think they should be signalling so you can copy them. Looking behind them, traffic awareness, road position and looking ahead are all important skills so try to pass as much information onto them as they will be able to take onboard.
If the child is riding their own bike get them to ride in the normal cycling position on the road (away from the gutter, yellow lines, etc) and position yourself behind them and out a little further out into the road. This will give the traffic a good chance to see you and will ensure they give both of you a nice wide berth. Also consider wearing a high visibility jacket, drivers will see this from a good distance away and it will also give you more confidence. By having confidence in your actions this will be passed to the child and they will learn to be confident cyclists too.