Taking kids cycling in the City: Tips for safe and fun urban riding
11 September 2023 - Learning to Ride
Cycling is not just a means of transportation; it's an adventure waiting to be explored. When it comes to urban environments, the thrill of riding through the bustling streets can be incredibly exhilarating, especially for kids. At Frog Bikes, we're all about promoting safe and enjoyable cycling experiences for young riders. In this blog, we'll share some valuable tips to help parents ensure their kids stay safe and have a blast while cycling in the city.
1. Choosing the right bike
Before embarking on a cycling adventure, it’s key to ensure your child is riding a bike that is not only appropriate for their size and age, but also that is appropriate for the terrain they will be cycling on. At Frog Bikes, we offer a range of lightweight bikes specifically tailored for kids and their cycling discipline. For cycling on the tarmac, we recommend a city bike, a road bike, or a hybrid bike.
2. Helmet on!
Safety should always come first. Make sure your child wears a properly fitted helmet at all times while riding their bike. Knee and elbow pads can provide an extra layer of protection, especially for newer riders.
3. Plan your route
Choose a cycling route that's suitable for kids and avoids busy roads as much as possible. Look for dedicated bike paths, quiet streets, or parks with cycling lanes. Planning the route in advance will help reduce the risk of encountering heavy traffic and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.
There are lots of ways to plan your route. Sustrans has info on all the routes on the National Cycle Network, just put in your location, the type of route you want, and the distance and it will give you your options. You can find the route planner here.
ShreeveMat, Frog ambassador, commented,“Enjoy the ride. Take the safest route, not the fastest route. Life doesn’t always have to be about racing from here to there. When cycling with kids, the more indirect, quieter routes can also be the most fun. If the girls are cycling their Frog bikes on the road with Mummy & Daddy, I’d typically scope the route first, with the girls cycling on dedicated cycleways or the quieter low-traffic streets where there is limited through traffic.”
4. Teach traffic rules
Teaching your kids basic traffic rules is essential for their safety. Explain the importance of obeying traffic signals, stopping at intersections, and using hand signals to indicate turns. Role-playing different scenarios can be a fun and effective way to help them understand these rules better.
5. Practice bike handling skills
Before hitting the city streets, spend some time practising basic bike handling skills in a safe environment. Teach your child how to start and stop smoothly, turn corners, and use their brakes effectively. These skills will build their confidence and prepare them for navigating through urban challenges.
6. Be visible
In a city environment, visibility is key. Make sure your child's bike is equipped with working lights and reflectors, especially if you plan to ride during dusk or dawn.
Hi-vis clothing is always a good choice, and reflective stickers can be added to the bike and helmet to enhance visibility and safety.
7. Ride during off-peak hours
To minimise exposure to heavy traffic, consider riding during off-peak hours. Early mornings or late afternoons on weekends might be ideal times for a peaceful ride through the city.
8. Stay alert
Encourage your child to stay alert and aware of their surroundings while riding. Teach them to anticipate potential hazards and be cautious around parked cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists.
Bikeability recommends: Parent at the back, ride forward to the junctions and last through a junction.
This positioning is key to making sure children are safe on the road when you’re riding as a family. Small children aren’t always spotted by drivers, so by cycling behind them you are not only able to see where they are at all times, but you are also more likely to be seen by drivers coming from behind. If just one adult is riding with children, then you can ride to the front when approaching a junction and make sure it is safe, then follow so you are the last one through the junction.
If there are two or more adults, one should stay at the back of the group and the other at the front. If you are at the front, make sure you are clear to the adult at the back where you are going – it can be useful to agree on some short verbal commands before you set off.
9. Make stops interesting
Plan stops along the route to make the ride more exciting. Visit local parks, playgrounds, or landmarks where your child can take breaks, explore, and have fun off their bike.
ShreeveMat commented“Locally, we like the canal path routes to Regent’s Park where we can guide the girls along. We also like backstreet routes to lovely, car-free locations like Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square in Kings Cross. Both these spaces are favourites to cycle, skate, scoot and run around in all weather; although the Granary Square fountains are a big summer attraction.”
10. Lead by example
Children often learn by observing their parents. Set a good example by following traffic rules, using proper hand signals, and demonstrating safe riding behaviour. Your actions will influence their attitude towards responsible cycling.
Cycling in the city can be an exhilarating adventure for kids and parents alike. By choosing the right bike, prioritising safety, and teaching your child essential skills, you can create memorable and enjoyable urban cycling experiences.