We love biking! Do you?
Riding a bicycle is a great way to get exercise and stay fit, and children who learn young often enjoy the skill for the rest of their lives. Many adults continue to ride well into adulthood, with the oldest known senior still cycling at 104 years old. Staying active has extensive, well documented health effects for adults, and learning to enjoy staying fit begins in early childhood. In addition, bicycles are a great form of independent transportation for many older children.
Start teaching your child how to ride a bicycle early
Children’s brains are most impressionable when they are very little, and like many skills, cycling is learned most quickly while the child is still young.
You can bring you child along with you on bike rides from infancy. Many parents enjoy taking their baby for a short ride in a sling or carrier. If you don’t feel safe doing this, plenty of devices such as child trailers and bike-mounted safety seats exist on the market that allow you to safely bring a small child along. Aside from the joy and practicality of being able to utilize an eco-friendly, inexpensive mode of transportation with your infant, you will accustom the child to enjoying and respecting the bicycle as a healthy transportation option when they’re older.
When children can walk, they’re ready to begin learning how to peddle. Toddlers have a lot of fun playing with push along bikes, which will get them used to peddling and help build their leg muscles.
When it’s time to remove stabilizers
Children can begin riding on a bicycle with training wheels as soon as they are big enough to reach the pedals. When they can steer well and judge when to stop, they are ready to have the stabilizers removed.
It’s very important not to rush this process if the child doesn’t feel ready to ride without them. Learning to ride a bicycle should be fun, not stressful. Even if they are shy at first, when they see their friends riding without training wheels, they will want to join in.
The best place for a first ride without training wheels is somewhere flat, quiet, and free of traffic. Run behind your child holding the saddle, but don’t let go until the child is ready. If you let go too soon, you may scare your child, making them unwilling to learn.
Making your child road ready
Children who have just learned how to ride should not be on the road. Let them ride around safer areas until they are stable. When you’re confident that your child has the skill and maturity to handle it, you can take them on the road.
Always ride as a family group at first. This will allow the new rider to learn the rules of the road.
Some areas offer cycling proficiency courses. These are a great opportunity for your child to fine tune their skills and become road-ready. Even if your child has graduated from this type of course, make sure to continually take them out and test them on their traffic skills. When you are 100% sure that your child is safe, you may let them ride alone.