Summer is over, but that doesn’t mean outdoor time has to end. Riding bikes is a great activity and fun for everyone.
The idea of riding safely with kids is another story. I’ve always been unsure of how to do it so I reached out to PedalHeads for an expert opinion. Here is what they had to say.
When riding with kids that already know how to ride:
1. Always have an adult lead the kid(s). Children don’t have the best initiative, struggle to make instantaneous decisions, and are often not aware of what is happening in the distance, both in front and behind when riding. Having the adult in front allows the kid to just simply follow/copy the adult. The leader must always be checking behind them, but this also allows better awareness of what is going on behind them in general so they can better communicate with the kid(s) what is coming up but also if they should know about anything approaching from behind.
2. Choose a carefully planned route that is primarily quiet, residential streets. Kids can get overwhelmed if there is a lot going on, and this can lead to panic, indecision, and not always the best choices. A quieter route also will usually mean more/better places to stop and take a water break. Make sure kids stay hydrated! If you take frequent short breaks, you will be amazed at how much ground you can cover with young children
3. Make sure your child has all the necessary skills to ride safely and confidently on the road:
- Can they ride at different speeds
- Can they brake quickly in case of an emergency
- Can they control and steer their bike well
- Can they hand signal and maintain a straight line
- Do they know different dangers/hazards on the road and what to do if encountered
4. As an adult being the lead, it is important that you be the example. Since we want the child to simply copy/follow you, you need to ensure that you are being as safe as possible not just for your own sake, but also the kid(s’). This means obeying traffic signs, riding in the appropriate areas (bike lanes, restricted bike areas, right-hand side of the road, etc), and using your hand signals. Be decisive when you are on the road and don’t hesitate once you decide on something. Drivers will understand signals and decisiveness and will make it safer for all parties.
5. Ride on the road – in many jurisdictions, like Vancouver, riding on the sidewalk is banned. Some places are exempt like bridges, but generally speaking, bikes should not be on sidewalks. So this means that you and your kid(s) should be riding on the road. Make sure you always ride furthest to the right when on the road. This does not mean right by the curb at all times but do stay as far over as possible. Maintain about a meter distance between yourselves and the curb/parked cars. It is important to teach kids this!
So there it is, expert advice on how to ride bikes with your kids. Of course, the biggest message is to Be Safe!
Pedalheads offers bike, swim, and sport programs to families in over 45 cities across Canada and the USA. Pedalheads helps kids develop life skills, confidence, and independence through fun, safe, and engaging instruction.