Find out about: Cycling for kids
Remember those first moments. After hours tirelessly wobbling on two wheels with your feet firmly planted on the ground, you took that first tentative move, balancing on two thin tyres, desperately hoping not to fall sideways in a scrambled heap. Then, all of a sudden, surprisingly, you realised that you were pedalling, moving without the aid of a parent or stabilisers holding you up, releasing a great sense of freedom. It’s a great memory for all of us. And for your child it’s either a recent memory or a rite of passage just around the metaphorical corner.
The appeal of riding a bike will surely never fade. It brings a taste of that much sought-after independence which children seek as they grow older. And of course, it has great social appeal. In recognition of the health-boosting and unifying, fun nature of cycling, a National Bike Week has been arranged to promote all things two wheel-related. How to Choose a Child’s Bike The main point to remember when buying a bike for your child is that it should fit him or her! The ability to control the bike is crucial, and a child is more likely to control one that is of the right size. Ideally, children should be able to mount and dismount the bike with ease, and, with a slight lean, manage to sit on the bike, whilst placing their feet comfortably on the pedals. You must also ensure that your child can comfortably reach the handlebars and manage the brakes and gears.
Any bike can be tailored to fit perfectly.
The following guidelines roughly refer to the correct size of bike for the age of your child:
Ages 3-5: 12” Wheel Cycles
Ages 4-6:14” Wheel Cycles
Ages 5-8:16” Wheel Cycles
Ages 6-9:18” Wheel Cycles
Ages 7-10: 20” Wheel Cycles
Ages 9-12: 24” Wheel Cycles
Ages 11+: 26”
Wheel Cycles With a new bike to pedal, your child may wish to take things one spoke further, so you may wish to sign them up for Bikeability, a brand new cycling profficiency award scheme.
Bikeability Cycling England’s aim is that within five years no child should leave primary school without being given the opportunity to do Bikeability awards. Assessment for the level 1 award is designed for children aged up to 9 when they start to cycle on off-road facilities or when supervised by adults, while level 2 training is usually offered to children aged 10-11 years old (in school years 5 or 6). The Bikeability website has regular updates on the schools and local authorities who are participating – www.bikeability.org.uk
Where to Cycle? Ok, so as a family, your bikes are now roadworthy, the children are profficient in cycling, so what next? Where do you go? Sustrans, the co-ordinator of the hugely popular National Cycle Network, provides a practical resource centre for all cyclists. Did you know there are over 12,000 miles of traffic-free, quiet lanes and on-road walking and cycling routes around the UK? And 75% of you live within two miles of the Network! Download a copy of the 2008 National Cycle Network map illustrating routes throughout the UK. Go to www.sustrans.org.uk– there are many ideas and free maps available to help you along.
Cycle Safety Tips
Head Protection: Buy a helmet that fits properly. And routinely ask your child to check the t before every ride. A proper-fitting helmet should fit snuggly around the head, and rest just above the eyebrows.
Lock up: When your bike is not in use, put a lock on it. Around 150,000 bicycles are stolen across Britain every year.
Squeeze the tyres: Give them a pinch to make sure they are hard.
Test the brakes: Make sure they’re not rubbing against the tyres. Adjust the Saddle: Too high or too low and it won’t be comfortable or safe.
Clean Lights and Reflectors: Make sure they aren’t muddy or covered up.
Dress to be Seen: Wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing and tuck in all loose clothing and shoe laces.
Further Details... www.britishcycling.org.uk – The internationally recognised governing body of cycle sport in the UK. www.cyclingengland.co.uk– Promotes use of bicycles in England through cycling safety and health www.forestry.gov.uk – The Forestry Commission provide miles of off-road cycle tracks. Essentially they are responsible for the protection of Britain’s forests and woodlands. www.bsca.org.uk– Promotes cycling for all young people. www.ctc.org.uk – CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation has been protecting the rights of cyclists since 1878. Also: Check out the road safety pages on your local council’s website for cycling schemes for schools and individuals.