Cycling with the family? Here is what to consider
The increase in take-up of cycling over recent months has been phenomenal.
Perhaps you have seen this and are thinking of following suit. But, what if you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood and now have children of your own to consider when looking to join the cycling revival?
Here are some things to consider if you are planning to go cycling as a family and take the kids along.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell any parent that safety is key!
With children on bikes (as with newbie adults), until they are fully competent, I advise keeping them off roads altogether if possible, or at least sticking to the safest, quietest roads you can find. Let them gain their confidence and mastery of their bikes. Make sure that their bikes have a bell and that they know how, when and where to use it. Teach them hand signals and relevant points of the Highway Code.
In terms of practical safety equipment, make sure their helmets are correctly fitted to their heads, put on knee and elbow pads as appropriate and ensure they are wearing brightly coloured clothes at all times, even if it is a bright and sunny day.
If and when you decide to take them on the roads, allow for the fact that they will be lower down than adults in the group and, therefore generally less visible. You need to avoid cycling close to parked cars and remember that children are also likely to be more wobbly on their wheels so motorists should be aware that they need to give them a wide berth. I’ve found that children can brake unpredictably if scared by traffic revving past them, which could cause other cyclists to collide with them.
So, if the roads turn out to be too busy and it doesn’t feel safe, just walk the bikes along the pavement and try another time when it will be quieter - or another route. Councils need to be lobbied to provide safe, segregated cycling now more than ever so that families don’t need to use cars to travel with social distancing.
If you’re not confident with your children riding independently yet but they are too big for a child seat or trailer, consider a tag-a-long or trailer bike. These are essentially like a tandem but obviously the rear bike is smaller.
This is a great way to get your child used to cycling and teach them all they need to know, while you are in control of the bike and they can rest on longer rides.
Finally, remember not to get over-ambitious with your early family bike rides. Start small and build up according to your child’s age and ability. There’s no point putting them off by asking them to do too much in the early days. I’m certain that, as their confidence and ability grow so will their enthusiasm for new, different and longer routes. You may find you’re the one asking whether you can go home soon!
Most importantly, ensure that you and your family enjoy your rides out together.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Catherine Bedford is Founder of Dashel. Dashel offers a range of slim, ventilated, lightweight cycle helmets manufactured in the UK. Web: www.dashel.co.uk
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