Riding a bike is a great way for kids to exercise, explore their surroundings, and have fun. It's also a rewarding family activity that can be adapted in so many ways; from trips to the shops and picnics in the park, to laps of the lake and off-road adventures! Whether riding on-road or off the road, day or night, a few simple steps will help to keep your clan safe and comfortable.
Firstly, it's important to ensure that the bike itself is safe to ride. This includes checking tyres are are not worn and are properly inflated, brakes are properly adjusted, and key components such as wheels and handlebars are correctly tightened.
Secondly, it's important that the bike is the correct size. Bikes that are too big and cumbersome can be hard for children to control, especially at that vital moment. Bikes that are too small can also be hazardous with insufficient room to manoeuvre leading to children tangling with themselves, the bike, or the ground!
With the bike covered, it's time to think about the following essentials:
- Protect - a high-quality, good-fitting helmet is a must. Do not settle for less! Measure the circumference of your child's head using a flexible tape, passing just above the ears and two centimeters above their eyebrows, and choose a helmet with a corresponding size
- Be seen - lights are essential at night and can help your child be seen better even during the day, as can bright clothing and reflective bands
- Be heard - as important as being seen, especially if approaching from behind. Will you go for a classic bell or a noisy horn?!
- Secure - keep your trusty steed secure at home and at school. Think about a lightweight, portable lock to provide flexibility whilst out on adventures, or popping into a shop
- Hydrate - even little people can work-up a big thirst on longer rides. Bottle cages can be attached to most bikes and backpacks provide an option with additional storage
- Be prepared - the likes of a portable mini-tool, lightweight mini-pump and easy-to-use puncture repair kit need not take up much room these days and can dramatically improve the outcome of a bigger day out!
These are the essentials. Of course, one can always go further depending on the nature of your adventure, for example:
- with more protection for riding the local pump / BMX track, or off-road (think gloves, pads)
- specialised clothing to keep older kids cool in more ways than one
- or practical accessories to carry items or even tow tired little legs!
At the right time, it's also important to teach kids about bike safety rules and ensure they understand how to ride safely, especially when they start riding on the road. This includes staying alert, using hand signals, and obeying traffic laws.
A bike safety course can be a great way to learn these skills. In conclusion, bikes are versatile and can be used in a variety of different ways, including to develop a child's confidence and independence.
Spend a little extra time preparing you and your child for your two-wheeled exploits and you can relax, confident that everyone is well-prepared for a safe and enjoyable ride!