There are so many great reasons to ride your bike. It offers fun, freedom and exercise, and it's good for the environment too. But it’s really important to keep your little ones safe when riding on their bikes. Take a look at our top safety tips for kids cycling for beginners:
- Wear a helmet: Properly-fitted helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by nearly 70 percent – yet less than half of children aged 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet. It’s without a doubt the best way to prevent head injuries and death. The right size helmet will sit level on your child’s head, with an inch gap between their eyebrows and the helmet. The straps need to sit firm when buckled up, but not be too tight or loose. Also consider knee and elbow pads for young children who are new to cycling.
- Ride on the pavement: It’s best for children under 12 years of age to cycle on the pavement rather than on the road. Traffic awareness develops around the age of 10 years old, and even though your child might be a proficient cyclist, they could make misjudgments about traffic. Young children should also be accompanied by a competent adult when riding on a footpath or cycle path. If you have to cycle on the road at any point, ensure you ride in the same direction as the traffic.
- Use hand signals: Make sure you know the rules of the road, and follow them. Show other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians that you’re about to maneuver by using hand signals, and looking properly before you do so.
- Ride in daylight: But if you must ride after dark, it’s a legal requirement to have one white light pointing straight forward and one red one pointing straight back. You must also have at least one red rear reflector and four amber pedal reflectors. Children should also wear bright colours so they can be seen easily by other vehicles.
- Ride with your children: Stick together until you are comfortable that your kids are ready to ride on their own. Children under 12 should always be supervised. Ride behind your children so you can see them at all times. If there’s another adult with you, ask them to ride at the front so they can look for any potential hazards up ahead.
- Pick a child-friendly route: You’ll want to choose places with nice easy routes and paths. Somewhere with flat terrain, as young children will struggle to ride up hill with no gears. Choose routes with very little or no traffic, or with dedicated bike lanes.
- Take water: When cycling with children, make sure you take regular breaks, and ensure they drink enough water. Cycling is a physical activity after all, and you don’t want them to become dehydrated, especially on a hot day.
- Sun protection: A nice, sunny day is the perfect opportunity to take your little ones out for a family bike ride. But make sure they’re protected from the sun with sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
Cycling is a great family-fun activity. By planning ahead and taking precautions, you can help your children stay safe while out riding.
What cycle safety rules do kids need to remember?
It’s natural for parents to worry about their kids when cycling, especially if they’re going out on their own. But by teaching them about road safety, and what they should and shouldn’t do, there’s no reason why children can’t enjoy the freedom and independence of cycling.
- Don't jump red lights
- Signal clearly at all times
- Ride in a position where you can see and be seen
- Don't go too fast
- Use your bell to let others know you are approaching
- Give way to others when necessary
- Be careful at junctions and bends
Cycle training is available for children and adults to help develop skills and increase confidence. To find out about courses that help your child gain confidence to cycle on the road, contact your local authority. Or ask at your child’s school to see if they offer such a scheme, such as Bikeability.