Your kids can enjoy a lot of benefits if they switch the backseat of a car or bus to the saddle of a bike. In fact, research revealed that just 15 minutes of cycling a day can make a big difference to a child’s health.
It also encourages them to make friends and do their bit for the environment too. And if that wasn’t enough, YouGov discovered that parents of 11-18 year olds in the UK could save around £520m each year if their little one cycled to school rather than being driven or taking public transport.
However, while it’s all good and well encouraging your budding Victoria Pendleton or Chris Boardman to take to the roads, it’s very important to consider their safety and wellbeing.
Here are some top tips to keep them in wheelie safe and sound on their trip to school.
Stay tight instead of loose
Before your child sets off, it’s always worth checking if their clothes are loosely fitted or tight. Baggy trousers may seem like an investment for growing kids, but they can get caught in bike chains or wheel spokes. Either get them to tuck them into their socks or cycle in a pair of shorts.
A helmet fit for purpose
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting a helmet that’s too big for your little one.
Here are a few tips on what to look for:
- Eyes check – put the helmet on your kid’s head and get them to look up. They should be able to see the bottom rim of the helmet and a gap of one or two fingers between their eyebrows.
- Ear check – the straps of the helmet should form a V under their ears when fastened.
- Mouth check – get them to open their mouth as wide as possible. The straps should be snug on their skin and head without moving around everywhere.
For more guidance on helmet fitting, ask one of our member of staff at your nearest Halfords.
Map it out
In most towns and villages, there are usually traffic-free cycling routes. You can map out your trip using a cool journey plan via CycleStreets.
Or for a bit of further inspiration, check out our recent blog: ‘The 7 best traffic free UK cycle routes’.
Go with them
Limber up and get involved! For peace of mind and your own enjoyment, dig out your bike and ride with them. If they’re scared you’re going to ruin their ‘street cred’, just agree to turn back before you reach the school.
Get tested with Bikeability
Bikeability has been created as the new ‘cycle proficiency’ test for the 21st century. Developed by Cycling UK, Bikeability teaches your child three levels of cycling safety. Including control, road sense and confidence.
These professional national standards will take your child through the process of riding their bike in a real street environment. This way, they are geared up for any obstacles ahead they may face on their adventure to school.
Bikeability also teaches your child how to check their bike to make sure it’s ready and safe to ride. This can include anything from testing the brakes and fixing flat tyres to adjusting the saddle height and getting your posture right.
You can find out where your nearest course is taking place here.
Kit yourself out
Before you send your kid on their cycling adventure to school, don’t forget to kit them out with all the road safety essentials.
From a nifty helmet to a handy water bottle to quench their first, you can find everything you need at Halfords. With the right equipment and bike, they should be able to get home safely and quickly, without any extra diversions.
For more tips on cycling safety, you might find our previous blog useful: ‘A parent’s guide to cycling to school’.