Cycling is second to swimming as a low impact activity that offers a full body workout. But where’s best to take kids cycling? You should opt for routes which avoid busy roads, even if this means making a slightly longer journey. Young children on trikes or balance bikes will enjoy just cycling up and down the pavements outside their house. But here are some more ideas on where to take budding young cyclists:
- Parks: Perhaps the easiest and safest place to go is your local park. There are estimated to be more than 27,000 parks and green spaces across the UK. These spaces are diverse, ranging from large parks with many facilities and amenities, to small neighbourhood or ‘pocket’ parks. They offer a safe place for little ones to ride away from busy roads. But do check that your local park allows cyclists as not all of them do.
- Canals & Rivers: There are miles and miles of flat canal and river routes to enjoy by bike, with no traffic and stunning waterside views. Just watch out for walkers, anglers, and the occasional horse!
- National Trust: There are more than 500 historic houses, castles, ancient monuments, gardens, parks, and nature reserves across the UK. While youngsters pedal away their excess energy, you’ll have the chance to enjoy beautiful historic buildings and stunning landscapes. It’s worth checking what’s on in advance too, as there are quite often special half-term activities to keep the kids entertained.
- Disused Railways: They provide a safe traffic-free environment for your kids, and are usually pretty flat so they can be managed on small bikes with no gears.
What is the National Cycle Network?
The National Cycle Network (NCN) was established to encourage cycling throughout Britain. It’s a UK-wide network of signed paths and routes for walking, cycling, and exploring the outdoors, and sees millions of trips taken on it each year. The NCN is made up of 5,273 miles of traffic-free paths, with an additional 11,302 miles on-road. It uses shared use paths, disused railways, minor roads, canal towpaths and low-traffic routes in towns and cities. The road sections range from quiet rural lanes to busy roads.
The Aberavon Promenade is a nice, easy, straight path, ideal for beginner cyclists and young children. It’s short at 1.5 miles, traffic-free, and offers lovely views out over to Mumbles Head. Or for a slightly longer ride of 6.5 miles, cycle the traffic-free Frinton-on-Sea to Clacton-on-Sea route, which takes you down The Esplanade and continues along the coast all the way to Jaywick. With magnificent sea views, this route is perfect for older kids with its flat and wide paths.
What are the benefits of cycling for kids?
Cycling is recommended as one of the ways to make a child more active. It’s sometimes difficult to control and monitor how much screen time they’re getting, so encouraging them to get out on their bikes could be a fun and healthy alternative. We know regular cycling contributes to better physical health, but here are some of the other reasons to get your little ones on the saddle:
- Physical development: Riding a bike develops a child's muscles, and can strengthen bones too. It can also help develop the lungs and heart by increasing their heart rate as they pedal. Regular cycling can also keep weight under control.
- Improved brain power: Riding a bike needs coordination and control skills. Studies have linked cycling to brain health and power. As kids engage in cycling, blood flow to the brain is increased. This means their brains stay healthy, and if they cycle to school, they’ll likely be more alert and perform better in class.
- Emotional wellbeing: Cycling boosts confidence in children as they learn to become more independent. It also helps kids be more aware of their bodies and their surroundings, and it can relieve stress and help them stay focused. And cycling together as a family boosts the bond within the family and creates lasting memories.
- Environmental impact: Cycling is one of the ways to raise eco-conscious kids. It’s a pollution-free form of transport, and your children will get to immerse themselves in the great outdoors.