Let’s face it, kids are fickle creatures. One minute they’re over the moon about a new toy or a game, and the next minute the toy is left collecting dust in the corner while they’re off chasing down the latest distraction. Keeping up with the ever-evolving interests of children – and keeping children interested – can be exhausting.
For parents who love cycling, getting their kids interested in bikes is not merely a matter of looking for a way to hold their kids’ attention, but being able to transmit their enthusiasm for cycling to their children. For some families, cycling is just a regular, everyday activity, but others remain unsure about how best to integrate cycling into their daily routine. Fortunately, there are a number of events, initiatives, and activities to both spark and maintain children’s enthusiasm for bikes.
Being part of a sports team is often one of the fondest memories of childhood. The camaraderie that accompanies team-based activities leads to the development of enduring friendships, sometimes lasting a lifetime. While cycling teams are often thought of as adult activities, a number youth-focused cycling teams are now springing up across the continent. Designed to get kids outside and active, youth cycling clubs teach everything from biking basics, safety, and bike maintenance to crucial childhood skills like teamwork and perseverance. Depending on your region, youth cycling clubs may be road-cycling based, or mountain biking based. An increasing number of organizations are also springing up around the US and Canada that bring the numerous benefits of bike programs to low-income and underserved youth and children. Cycling clubs like Momentum Bike Clubs seek to empower underserved youth through cycling, while organizations like Trips for Kids offer cycling trips as well as bike shop classes and after-school programs for inner-city youth.
Kidical Mass event
Kidical Mass events are youth-focused events dedicated to helping more families feel comfortable biking. The events bring together large groups of people of all ages for social bike rides down community streets, particularly aiming to take roads that most parents would feel comfortable cycling on with their children. They aim to introduce parents who are new to biking to the possibilities of a biking with children in a fun and supportive environment. Check out our previous coverage of Kidical Mass events to learn more, or to learn how to start one in your community.
Commute by Bike
Traveling almost entirely by bike is a fantastic way to introduce your children to cycling at a young age. For kids who grow up riding to and from school and sports and friends’ houses on the back of a cargo bike, or whose earliest memories involve sitting strapped into the seat on the back of their parents’ bikes, cycling comes to be seen as just a normal, natural way of moving through the world. If you think your children are too young to bike with, check out our guide to biking with a newborn to learn how cycling with little ones can be done safely, or check out one family’s story of making the switch to car-free living with a cargo bike.
What kid doesn’t love a party? When planning your child’s next birthday party, why not consider a bicycle-themed party to get your little one (and their friends!) excited about bikes. What exactly is a bike-themed party? Great question. A bicycle-themed party has no set definition, but could involve anything from bike parades to bike races to a bicycle-shaped birthday cake. Check out our previous coverage of bike-themed parties for a few ideas.
Including cycling in your next vacation is a fun, inexpensive, and increasingly simple option for family-friendly travel. Bike rental outlets exist in basically every city worldwide, and in a growing number of smaller towns as well. Apps like Spinlister, a peer-to-peer bike sharing system, enables you to rent the types of bike you like from people like you. As the app grows in popularity, the amount of options for children’s bikes is sure to grow along with it. While city bike tours are normally just for adults, more city bike tour operations like The Pedaler in Victoria, BC and Montreal, QC’s Fitz & Follwell are now adding family-friendly tours to their list of offerings as well. Exploring a new place by bicycles is a great way to spend quality time with your kids, and the activity of cycling will keep little ones entertained on long sightseeing trips.
Bike camping with children is definitely not the easiest way to get children enthusiastic about biking, but could be one of the most rewarding. Children not only get the opportunity to explore new environments and witness the beauty of the outdoors, but do so at a pace that enables them to appreciate the transition from an urban to a rural setting, and appreciate the effort it can take to get there. Check out our guide to bike camping with children to read about one family’s experiences and get some helpful tips on planning your own family bike camping adventure.
Check out liv-cycling.com for some great stories – including “Our Children: Sharing Rides” – and visit us on Facebook at Liv Cycling Canada to share yours.