You love cycling, you have a young family, and you want to make cycling an integral part of your family’s routine. While biking around with your kids while they’re young is a great way to get them comfortable on a bike, it’s also important to ensure that they develop a solid understanding of bicycle safety so you can feel confident on the first day they (gasp!) go out on a ride on their own. Here are a few tips and tricks to teach children bike safety – both while on and off the bike – so your little two wheelin’ tots are ready to take on the world, one bike lane at a time.
Make bicycle safety gear fun
At its bare minimum, safety gear for riding a bike is a good set of lights for when its dark. Many people also choose to wear helmets and hi-visibility clothing or apparel. Whatever setup you choose for your family, you can make the process of safety gear fun by showing your kids all of the options and letting them choose their suit. Companies like Nutcase have so many fun patterns for kids’ helmets that your little one is sure to find one that expresses their personal style. Luminescent string lights such as the Bike Glow enable them to decorate their ride with visibility, basically turing bike safety into a game of dress-up.
A fun way to get kids interested in bicycles is to integrate learning about bikes into activities you do together. Activities like coloring in the streets signs can be a good way for children to get familiar with the rules of the road.
Or on your next movie night, before you turn on Frozen and heat up the chicken strips, consider a child appropriate movie that also incorporates bikes or bike safety. You can use a reward system for example – have your child watch a short film on bicycle safety, have them answer a few questions, and then they get to pick the next movie (and maybe even dinner!) Sounds like a pretty great deal.
Similarly, you can watch a children’s movie like E.T. or Pee-wee’s Great Adventure that incorporates bikes into the film. You can then use the movie as an opportunity to get your kid excited about riding. Just remember to point out any instances of unsafe bicycling (maybe after the film: “Can you think of any times during the movie that Pee-wee practiced unsafe biking?”). Either way it’ll be fun, and it will hopefully spurn a love of bikes with your kid. I mean who doesn’t want to reenact that famous E.T. scene? You know the one.
Basic Bike Maintenance
Teaching your children how to maintain their bicycle is a great, hands-on activity that will leave them with some pretty useful skills that they can carry with them. Most kids love to tinker around with things and get their hands dirty, so teaching them how to clean and maintain their chain, check their brakes and understand basic bike maintenance is a great way to let them feel involved while also instilling an understanding of the importance of bike maintenance to bike safety. Even if the little ones are still on a push bike, inviting them to check out what you’re doing on your bicycle is a great way to help them develop an early enthusiasm for their own “big kid bike.”
Practice off the bike
Try practicing hand signals at home. For anyone on the road, it is important to know the hand signals for turning right, turning left, or stopping. It’s important to practice hand signals so that once your child feels comfortable riding with you on busier streets, hand signals will be second nature. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive, but the occasional “pop quiz” when you’re hanging out at home will keep the signals fresh in their minds for their next ride.