Tips for safe riding with your children on a bicycle
Cycling on public roads involves an important part of the responsibility. It is essential that children learn the rules of the road, as well as how to ride a bicycle safely and responsibly.
The benefits of cycling for children
Learning to ride a bicycle is a rite of passage for many children, and it also has health and fitness benefits.
Biking is a great way for your child to exercise during the winter school vacation, and it can be a fun day out for the whole family. Cycling is all about being a child: fun, freedom and fresh air. It’s also a simple way to lose weight and improve coordination.
As children grow older, teaching them to ride a bicycle develops patience, discipline, self-reliance and personal responsibility. Cycling also teaches important skills that will help them become safer and more courteous motor vehicle operators later in life.
Riding with children allows a parent to watch their bike, especially in high risk places such as street intersections.
Children, no matter how responsible they are, should NEVER be allowed to drive alone or without supervision.
Pedal Power Association Executive Director Karin Pohl said: “Parents should behave consistently by stopping and looking back and forth before continuing, and inviting the child to help assess conditions. traffic. “
In South Africa, cycling on a curb or sidewalk is illegal unless there is a designated cycle lane, which means your child will likely have to ride on the road. Children between the ages of seven and ten, however, can acquire the traffic and driving skills necessary to drive safely on two-lane residential streets, as long as they are streets with very light traffic.
The South African Pedal Power Association provides useful information that parents should share with their children from an early age:
- Always wear a helmet (this is NOT negotiable – never).
- Ride in single file, even in a group.
- Do not hang on to other vehicles
- You can’t deviate from side to side on purpose.
- You cannot ride with another person or an object that prevents you from seeing where you are going and having full control over your bike.
- If there is a cycle path on a public road, you must use it.
- Never ride on a highway or a road closed to cycling.
- Follow all traffic laws, including stopping at red lights and all stop signs.
- Only cross intersections if it is safe to do so.
It is essential that parents inspect their children’s bikes before riding. You don’t want your child to break down on a busy road or away from assistance! Together, inspect the bikes and set an example for your children.
Before going on a bike ride, make a safety checklist:
- Are there any holes, cuts or stones embedded in the tires?
- Are the tires properly inflated?
- Are the wheels secure?
- Check both brakes to see if they work.
- Do the gears appear to be in good working order?
- Is the chain lubricated and clean?
- Are the saddle and handlebars securely attached?
- Are the frames or forks cracked?
- Do you have a saddlebag on your bike with emergency spare parts such as a spare inner tube, repair kit and tire changers?
- Does your bike have lights and reflectors – red on the back, white on the front?
Tip: Long bike rides can be grueling or boring for kids, so start small and interrupt longer rides with stops every 20 minutes or so. A return trip to a place of interest, such as an ice cream parlor, restaurant or park, is particularly effective.