It’s only natural for parents to worry about their child’s safety and when their beloved offspring is about to make their first journey on two wheels parents will understandably be anxious. But don’t despair, here are some simple tips and advice to calm your nerves and ensure that children are safe on the UK’s roads.
You don’t have to wait until your child is ready to cycle by themselves before introducing them to this fun and healthy activity. In fact, one of the best ways to help prepare your child is to take them out on cycle rides from an early age. You can start by carrying them in a seat before moving on to cycling in tandem or with a trailer bike so children can experience the sensation of cycling without having to worry about balance and falling off.
This ensures that they will be far more confident when they are ready to start learning to ride by themselves. It also has the added benefits of ensuring that you can spend even more quality time as a family and that your child can appreciate the benefits of cycling from an early age. Of course, it is best to cycle on quiet routes or in the countryside if possible but having some experience of cycling amongst traffic can be beneficial for later on in their cycling careers.
What to do to prepare your child for cycling
The importance of wearing a helmet should be passed onto your children before they ever ride a bike. Although they may not think it looks cool, especially as they get older, if they follow your example of wearing one from a young age then they are far more likely to stay safe on the roads. The fact that cyclists should always wear a helmet is backed up by research from a bicycle accident claim specialist that shows that most accidents occur on leisure rides, with over half of all accidents involving a third party, whether that is another cyclist, a pedestrian or a motor vehicle.
A well-fitting bike is also vital. If the bike is too big or too heavy then it can make cycling far more difficult and uncomfortable, which can even put them off from learning. Ensuring your child has the perfect bike for them is great preparation to learn and develop their cycle skills. Although your child might argue differently, their first bike doesn’t need gears; in fact, this can make cycling more complicated. A starter bike should have one gear and then once the basic skills have been mastered, a child can upgrade to dealing with gears. As a rule, a bike that weighs around 13kg and with 24-inch wheels should be a good fit for a ten-year-old.
How can I ensure my child has the necessary skills?
Just by leading by example can help to equip your child with the skills they need. Children learn so much from watching and listening to their parents and cycling isn’t any different; if they see that you enjoy cycling and are an assertive and safe cyclist, then they are more likely to as well.
Bike maintenance skills are important, especially as a child gets older and may cycle without you. Knowing how to maintain your bike and ensure that it is in good working order reduces the risks of accidents and can make cycling more comfortable and enjoyable. Also, if they get a puncture whilst cycling then they’ll know what to do! Make sure that you explain to your child the importance of maintaining your bike, especially the brakes and tyres; if there is an issue with either part of the bike then it can become dangerous.
How can I develop my child’s skills once they’ve mastered the basics?
If your child is confident riding solo, it’s worth cycling behind them and taking the opportunity to observe how they deal with potential hazards. Do they cycle too close to parked cars and the edge of the road? Are they aware of other road users? Do they know what to do when approaching a junction? All of these are vital skills that come with time and experience so make sure that you explain clearly to your child what they should do in each situation. Another option is enrolling them on a cycle awareness course so an expert can teach them everything they need to know about cycling on the road.
With these basic tips, your child will be ready to develop a love of cycling in no time and you’ll have the peace of mind and confidence to show them everything they need to know!