The majority of parents you speak with will share pleasant recollections of riding bikes as a child and will share fantastic anecdotes of riding to school for several years – in primary and high school. This is unsurprising, given that in the 1970s, eight out of ten children rode their bikes to school. It is now only two out of ten, and we are convinced that number will begin to rise again.
Ride2School Day occurs only once a year, however it is not difficult to have children biking to school all year in most places throughout Australia. And there are numerous reasons to encourage children to ride their bikes to school. Not only does riding to school improve children’s fitness and wellbeing, but it also helps them arrive awake and aware, which improves their attentiveness in class and ability to comprehend the curriculum.
How old should a kid be to ride a bike to school?
The average age for kids to learn to ride a bike is between 3 and 7 years old – but this is just an average. Some children may be ready to start building their basic cycling skills earlier. Others might want to wait until later when a two-wheeler isn’t so big and intimidating.
Numerous factors must be considered: the length of the ride, the presence of hills, the width of the footpaths (or the absence of pauses in the footpaths), the presence of footpaths or bike lanes, the traffic route, and the number of highways that must be crossed. At any age – beginning with prep or pre-school – younger children can ride to school accompanied by their parents or caregivers. We see very confident riders as young as five years old cycling to school, accompanied by their parents who either ride beside them or walk/run (and make the most of the time to get their daily action in!).
For older children, there is no rule dictating what age children can ride to school alone, although it is suggested that around the ages of 8/9/10, the majority of children will have the requisite skills to manage the ride independently. This can only be determined by parents, who are familiar with their children’s confidence and talents and who take into account all of the variables listed above regarding the school route.
Nicole Avery of Planning With Kids quotes research to suggest that allowing children to ride or walk to school on their own at the age of ten is a good indicator: “[Children under the age of ten] have less ability to judge the distance and speed of a car, and their peripheral vision – the ability to see things out of the corner of their eye’ – is less developed than an adult’s. As a result, children under the age of ten should not cross the street without the supervision of an adult.
According to the Bicycle Network, as mentioned in another article concerning legislation and riding on footpaths, “Students under the age of 16 are far more prone than adults to take risks while riding on the road, making footpaths the ideal option for younger riders. Because their ability to assess risks on the road and their visual and perceptual skills are not fully developed, allowing students to ride on footpaths – whether for the first time or previously during their primary school years – allows them to practice these skills in a much less congested environment.”
Why Encourage Your Kids To Ride To School?
Everyone is aware that the majority of Western children do not get enough exercise. Instead of being addicted to various types of displays, they should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise daily. It’s even been given a new name: exercise deficit disorder! The simplest method to incorporate the prescribed 60 minutes of activity per day is to assist your children in walking or biking to school. This results in less structured activities and parental chauffeuring. Exercise gets ingrained in daily life, which contributes to the development of a healthy habit. The following benefits accrue to youngsters who ride their bikes to school:
- Strengthening, stabilizing, and improving overall fitness
- Calorie expenditure
- Strengthening the heart, lungs, and muscles and bones of the lower body
I would add that I have personal experience with developing and strengthening the muscles surrounding the knees without impact. As a child, riding my bike to school aided me in the following ways:
- Enhance my disposition
- Boost my self-esteem
- Increase my self-confidence
- Have a great time!
Encouraging Kids to Bike to School
September has arrived, and now is the ideal time to start planning to get your children ready to ride their bikes to school. HUB recently tweeted this article about how the Washington, DC, school district has included bike skills training into the primary school curriculum. All second graders in the city’s public schools are learning how to ride a bike in physical education this school year.
Children who ride their bikes to school in North America must develop fundamental cycling and safety skills. The Washington, DC, public school system has recently integrated bike skills training into its elementary school curriculum. The city currently incorporates bike safety education into its curriculum as part of Safe Routes to School, but teachers saw that big groups of children required more fundamental teaching on how to ride a bike.
The DC Department of Transportation purchased 475 durable bikes that will be shared across district primary schools, ensuring that a quarter of the district’s elementary schools will always have enough bikes and helmets. Second graders will receive their own bike during physical education, and then the bikes will be rotated to another school.
Children who are already proficient riders will participate in obstacle courses and other activities to hone their skills, while those who have never ridden a bike will receive more focused tuition to learn the fundamentals. The universal bike education project will also increase access to the city’s increasing bike sharing scheme. The goal is to enable more individuals in DC to commute in a healthy, environmentally sustainable, and cost-effective manner.
Make a Plan to Get your Child ready to Bike to School
Until your local school district incorporates riding into its curriculum, you can always contact your neighborhood bike store or bicycling association to inquire about classes for children to learn fundamental bike skills. Alternatively, if you are proficient, you can teach them.
Once your children are ready to ride their bikes to school, research the routes from your home to their school. Determine the safest route and take it with your child several times before they venture out alone.
Here are our top ideas for getting your child started or returning to school riding:
Have a Safe Children’s Bike Helmet
Ascertain that it is properly fitted. The ByK helmet complies with the world’s strictest safety regulations. With the fully adjustable ByK fit system, sizing fits most children between the ages of 4 and 10. With a reflective rear panel, chin protection, sun visor, wide vents, and brilliant colors, the ByK helmet is unmatched in terms of safety and design. Consider how far children’s helmet design has come by comparing it to the 1980s Stackhat!
Encourage Children to Use Bicycle Locks
Teach children the responsibility that comes with having a bike by requiring them to lock it at school or even during extracurricular activities or outings. When you secure your bike, you assume ownership and responsibility for its maintenance, which will permeate other aspects of their life. Consider the ByK children’s bike locks – they’re lightweight, simple to use, and attach to their bike, ensuring that it’s always available when they need it.
Invest on a Bicycle Bell
While all ByK’s include a bell, you may customize your ByK with some of the truly amazing bells available. We adore Beep Bicycle Bells, which are hand painted in Australia (the sound is very ‘old school’!) and have noticed a few modded ByK’s sporting the ultra awesome Electra Bicycle Bells as well. Additional alternatives are available at your local bicycle retailer.
You may not intend for your child to ride at night or even at dusk or dawn, but with thick clouds and during the winter months, they may find themselves riding in extremely low light, making it critical to have the bicycle lights ready and working. At the very least, we recommend attaching a small led-type light to the back of the helmet.
While it may appear simple, the red reflector sticker on the back of this helmet aids drivers in identifying this small rider.
Develop your traffic skills
Even if you intend for your children to ride exclusively on footpaths or bike paths, it is never too early to educate youngsters basic traffic skills. At a minimum, teach your children how to signal and avoid common bicycle-car incidents.
When we interviewed ByK Mum Lucy O’Dwyer, she told us about the amazing cycling skills workshops she hosts at her children’s primary school. The seminars focus on traffic and safety skills for youngsters. You can read her interview in full here. Allow the Children to Ride Wildly…in Safety. Children take risks – we all know they will – so let them to do so in a setting that you are comfortable with, not on the school bike route. On weekends, take them to local parks, pump tracks, or even further afield to national parks and let them rip it up, do some jumps, and experience what it’s like to skid, fly, and ride at top speeds. They’ll thank you for getting them out there, and you can also teach them how to assess risky situations and respond fast.
Ride with Your Children or Use the Ride-Pool
While riding to school with your children is the greatest option in the early years, another alternative is to organize a ride-pool group with other parents/children in your neighborhood. While this may need some coordination and the riding parent must be comfortable with each child’s riding abilities, it means that younger children will have more opportunities to ride to school with at least one parent supervising the journey.
Check for Bicycle Safety
Finally, but certainly not least, ensure that the bike is in good functioning order.