Teaching a child to ride a bike with Bikeability

Teaching a Child to Ride a Bike with Bikeability

Whatever your age, learning to cycle opens up a world of opportunities! Cycling keeps us fit, reduces our carbon footprint and helps us look after our mental wellbeing. From cycling to school or work to avoid getting stuck in traffic, to replacing short car journeys with cycling to help save the planet. Learning to cycle is an essential life skill, and here’s a great way to get started!


Bikeability is the Department for Transport’s flagship national cycle training programme for schoolchildren in England and is a key component of Gear Change. Bikeability cycle training is a practical training programme, which provides schoolchildren with life skills and enables them to cycle confidently and competently on today’s roads.

Bikeability has helped almost four million children, plus thousands more adults and families, get pedalling. Bikeability gives everyone the confidence to cycle and enjoy the skill for life.


Schools and families have trusted Bikeability for years to deliver a programme of cycle training for all. Almost 4 million budding cyclists have put their trust in them, gaining the confidence they need to take to the roads. What’s more, they’ve had fun doing it too!

They’re here to teach children those vital skills that will stay with them for life. Confident cycling opens up a world of opportunity – commuting to school, out for a family bike ride, keeping fit or just hanging out with your friends. Wherever you need to go, and whatever level of experience you are at, Bikeability’s training courses will prepare you for a lifetime of fun.

Bikeability matches the individual ability to training requirements and as it is a progressive programme, children can develop their skills at their own pace and confidently.

Find out more about Bikeability levels:

  • Bikeability level 1 - Ready for a journey? Have you mastered the art of balance with no stabilisers? Then you’re ready for Level 1
  • Bikeability level 2 - Level 2 teaches children how to grow more confident with each turn of the pedal with our expert instructors
  • Bikeability level 3 - Level 3 can equip you with the skills needed to stay safe in more challenging urban situations and learn more advanced skills
  • Bikeability plus - We all know that cycling will boost confidence, physical health and emotional well-being. Bikeability plus modules complement our core levels, so you can become a well-rounded cyclist

 "I feel really relaxed and happy when I ride my bike, and it’s given me independence and freedom", commented Addison, a Bikeability champion.


Bikeability has put together some of their expert tips for learning to ride: Before you start:

Is your bike the correct size?
Trying to learn on a cycle that doesn’t fit you properly will make it much harder to get going. Before you set off, you need to check that your seat is at the right height.

  • Stand next to your cycle – the saddle should be at hip height.
  • Make sure that the top of your handlebar is level with the mid-point of the saddle.
  • Your handlebars should be close enough to reach with ease. Overstretching will cause wobbles, especially when trying to turn corners.
  • Your legs should only be slightly bent when on the pedal and riding. The straighter the leg, the better.
  • Your seat height should allow you to rest the tips of your toes on the ground. This lets you use your feet for control and confidence in the early stages.

Is your bike roadworthy?
Make sure your cycle is safe and roadworthy. Even if you have a brand-new shiny Frog bike to ride, you should get into the habit of completing your safety checks before each cycle.

We like to call them the ‘ABCDs’ of cycle maintenance:

  • AIR – Have your tyres got enough air?
  • BRAKES – Do the front and back brakes work properly?
  • CHAIN – Have you oiled it recently?
  • DIRECTION – Are your handlebars fixed on tight? Is your seat on tight and pointing forward?

 If you can answer yes to the ABCDs then you are good to go! Watch more on preparing for a cycle ride on Bikeability’s YouTube channel.

Does your helmet fit?
Wearing a helmet is a personal choice. If you do choose to wear a helmet then remember, no one size fits all. Your helmet should sit on top of your head, not too tight or too loose, with the peak sitting about two fingers' width above your eyebrows.

Getting started
It doesn’t matter how old you are, the best thing to do when learning to cycle is to ditch the pedals! Turning your bike into a balance bike will help you build up your confidence.

Make sure you practice how to hold your handlebars – you don’t have to hold them tight! Roll up a newspaper or magazine and hold it without squeezing it, this is how you should hold your handlebars.

Once you’re ready to get on your cycle, imagine you are superglued to the saddle, this will help you get used to scooting and gliding.

Getting Going
Once you’ve mastered gliding, put your pedals back on and prepare to get cycling. It’s important to remember you might not get it the first time. If you’re struggling, here are some things you can try:

  • Look up! You may be tempted to look at your pedals but keeping your eyes up will help your balance. Parents, stand in front of your child to encourage them to look forward.
  • Change the surface you’re cycling on. The grass may be easier than tarmac, and vice versa! Find what works for you.
  • Have fun! Learning to cycle should be fun, so keep it that way. Getting frustrated won’t help you learn to ride. Keep smiling, have a laugh and enjoy discovering a new skill. You’ll be whizzing around in no time!

Getting Out
Once you’ve mastered basic cycle skills, it’s time to get out and about! To improve your cycling skills even further, sign up for a Bikeability session. You may be offered Bikeability in school or at a holiday club. You can use the Find a Course search on the Bikeability website to find a course near you.

Or if the whole family wants to learn to cycle together, the Bikeability family does just that! Our instructors will run you through a bespoke course just for your family to make sure you’re all confident cyclists and can start your cycling adventures together. Watch our Cycle More and Have Fun video to discover top cycling tips from real cycling families.

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