Biking for the Entire Family
● By Digital Media Director
By: Chad Pickard, Spoke-N-Sport
Before they can ride:
If you like to bike, why not take your toddler with you? There are plenty of products that will
keep them safe while you ride. Before taking your child with you on a bike ride, check with your pediatrician. Muscle development in your child's neck is important for them to support and keep their head up. With that in mind, a trailer is a great option. A quality trailer will come with a 5 point harness, reflectors, good airflow and the structure will act as a roll cage. You'll still want a helmet on their head as well. While quality trailers can be expensive, they do tend to retain their value. When you're done with it, pass it on or sell it.
Child seats that mount on the bike can be a more affordable option. Either on the back of the bike or front (between rider and the handlebar,) these types of seats work great, but can raise the center of gravity of the bike. This makes loading and unloading of the bike a two person job, but handling of the bike is usually pretty easy for experienced parents.
Learning to ride:
Most of us with birthdays before the 80's spent some time with training wheels on our bikes. Although the training wheels helped us feel secure and confident on something new, they may have done more harm than good. Training wheels keep a bike upright and don't allow for the rider to lean into a corner when going around the block. A better option would be a balance bike. A balance bike helps a child learn balance and steering while keeping their feet close to the ground. You'll be surprised how quickly they’ll learn balance. Most kids are ready for balance bikes as young as two-years-old. A balance bike will make them a cyclist for life.
Exploring with kids:
Cycling is a great way for children to learn how traffic moves in the city. Although younger kids should be on the sidewalk, there is a time when they should learn the rules of the road and migrate to riding with the big kids on the street. There is a danger zone when that sidewalk empties onto a street or crosses over multiple driveways. Remind your kids they always need to be looking out for other traffic. Walk down your own street and point out the driveways and intersections where there may be a car coming or going. Adults tend to navigate our city on bikes the way we drive.
Open up a map and find routes to parks, stores and friends houses that use side streets and bike routes. Roads with less traffic and lower speeds are easier to navigate by bike. Stay off the main streets that tend to attract faster larger moving traffic.