7 Techniques for Encouraging Kids to Cycle to School
As a new study shows that only 3% of Irish students cycle to school, we thought we could encourage you and your children to cycle to school with these tips and advice for a fun and safe commute.
Although you cannot control the investment in cycling infrastructure or address safety concerns, there are steps you can take to ensure your children have a safe and pleasant ride to school.
When planning your child's route to school, prioritise safety by identifying and using designated bike lanes or paths with minimal traffic and safe crossings. It's important to choose a route that is suitable for your child's cycling abilities. To involve your kids in the process, sit down with them and plan the cycling route together. By doing so, you can alleviate safety concerns for both parents and students.
Before the school year starts, take some practice rides with your kids to build their confidence and familiarity with the route. Practice basic cycling skills like starting, stopping, and turning.
CREATE A ROUTINE AND ACCOMPANY YOUR CHILD ALONG THE WAY:
Establish a routine for cycling to school. Prepare bikes, helmets, and any necessary items the night before. This way, the morning becomes smoother, and everyone knows what to expect.
Ride alongside your child to provide a sense of security. As they gain confidence, gradually give them more independence while still being nearby for support.
BUILD UP GRADUALLY:
Begin with short rides around the neighbourhood to build familiarity with cycling. Gradually increase the distance as your child becomes more comfortable on the bike.
To help build to the full cycling commute, start by setting achievable goals related to cycling. It could be riding to a nearby park, completing a longer ride, or even earning a cycling-related reward. These goals give your child a sense of accomplishment.
If the school is far from home, it might be impractical for kids to cycle long distances, especially if they need to navigate busy roads or challenging terrains. Consider splitting your journey by driving halfway and cycling the rest until you all become confident enough to do it all on the bike.
Spending quality time with your children to teach them about bike safety, road rules, cycling techniques and navigating traffic safely is a great idea. Look for a park or green area where your child can feel safe and confident to learn these skills. Don't forget to teach them hand signals and basic traffic awareness.
If you're not confident in your own cycling abilities, consider signing up for a cycling safety course so you can pass on these skills to your child.
Why not reach out to your child's school and inquire about organising a bike safety education day?
Encourage students to cycle together in groups. This can enhance a sense of community and make the journey more enjoyable. In line with this, you could have your school organise a "Bike to School" day in the same manner as the "Walk on Wednesday" exists. This would create some excitement and raise awareness about cycling.
PREPARE FOR THE WEATHER:
Invest in quality light, waterproof and windproof cycling clothing with reflective details. These are easy to pack and great to have in case the weather turns, making sure your child is always comfortable and safe while cycling.
INVEST IN A QUALITY BIKE:
A good bike can make the cycling experience more enjoyable, comfortable, and safe. Lightweight bikes, like our Ridgeback, Bergamont and Scott kids’ bikes, are easier to manoeuvre, accelerate quickly and generally provide a more efficient and comfortable riding experience. Features including powerful brakes, simple and easy-to-use gear, built-in kickstand and fun design will also improve your child's desire to cycle.
Proper sizing is paramount, and we recommend you look at our handy size guide to ensure you get the right size for your child.
Remember, the key to successful cycling to school is making it a positive experience for your kids. Keep the focus on fun, adventure, and spending quality time together while promoting a healthy lifestyle.