Cycling is a great way to spend time as a family and cuts down on car usage for short family trips and errands. It is a great way for the whole family to get out the house and exercise.
Here are some of our top tips for a safe, successful, and fun family bike ride:
1. Age- Even though, there is no legal limit for children cycling on roads parents still need to be sensible and think safe, based on their child’s cycling skills, maturity, and awareness of possible hazards. Children under the age of 10 have no criminal liability for cycling on the pavement, however this does not mean that children always should or need to ride on it. Younger children can ride safely on the road, but research shows that traffic awareness does not develop until 8 to 10 years old, children younger than this should be closely supervised.
2. Skills- It is important any child has basic cycling skills before going on a bike ride. The basic requirements are that a child should be able to ride in a stable, predictable, and controlled manner. This means that they are confident riding in a straight line, cornering and able to brake and stop when needed. If your child needs some practicing improving their skills always make sure to ride in a traffic free environment.
Having younger children who aren’t ready to ride on the road doesn’t have to mean no family cycling fun - check out tag-alongs, trailers or even tandems. You could hire them from us if you wanted to try any out?
3. Check the Bike- Make sure that your children’s bikes are well maintained and safe to ride. We can help if the bike needs a service or you need any advice, we are happy to help, just get in contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01242 231690.
4. Route choice- Family bike rides should be fun and not stressful, so route planning is important. Try to pick a route that avoids busy roads and complicated junctions. Take advantage of traffic free cycling routes and cycle paths but make sure, if using a shared cycle path, that your children are aware that they may encounter pedestrians on the other side.
Children’s bikes are heavy compared to adult bikes, so getting up hills might seem easy to you but most likely it is very difficult for little legs with a heavy bike. As well, child like to pick up speed and can pick up speed very easily when going downhills. Therefore, flatter routes are safer when riding with children. If there any hills or any other obstacles or hazards, consider getting off and walking.
5. Communication during the bike ride- Make this bike ride an outing, have fun, and catch up as a family. But communicating and talking to your children about hazards, asking children to give you clear warning if they’re slowing down or pulling to the side of the road and explaining to them what you’re doing and why it becomes a great learning experience for them too. As you’ll usually be the following rider, you’ll be responsible for checks over your shoulder and signalling, but as long as your child has the bike handling skills to signal and look behind, you should encourage them to look and sign