Biking With Kids? Here’s What You Need to Know Before You Go
While you might not be able to remember the very first time you rode a two-wheeler on your own, we bet you have at least a few memories of pedaling around as a kid. The freedom of two wheels and the open road or, well, the end of your driveway? Ah, that was the best part about learning how to to bike. And now that you have a family of your own, it’s time to start creating memories on two wheels.
Whether your little ones have yet to take their first steps, are still working on training wheels or are ready to hit the trails, anyone of any age can enjoy a day of cruising around. Here, a few tips before you strap on helmets (this is a given!) and head out for a family cycling adventure.
1. Pick the Right Bike
This seems obvious, but it’s worth going over. If you’re bringing your toddler along, you’ll mostly likely want to situate them in a trailer. Here at Bluejay we love the Burley Bee Bike Trailers (which come in Single or Double sizes, to fit one or two kiddos, respectively) because they keep your little ones comfy and safe, while also providing plenty of cargo space for all the stuff you likely need to bring to keep them entertained.
Once they’re a bit bigger, around one or two, you can install a bike seat. These are a safe and reliable way to transport your squirmy kiddos around, though you’ll want to make sure to choose a style that has ample safety features. We recommend the Thule Yepp Maxi Child Bike Seat that keeps them in place thanks to a five-point harness and a child-proof safety buckle, in addition to being crafted from a shock-proof material. (Another one of our fave features? It grows with them and will fit children from nine months to six years.)
From ages three and up, your kids are ready for their own two wheels—though you might want to start them out on a balance bike, which will help them learn how to steer and balance before pedals get added into the mix. So by the time your child hits six, you’ll be ready to get them a bike just like your Bluejay (though you’ll want to hold out on the whole battery thing for a while...). Start them off on four wheels and once they’ve gotten the hang of balancing, you can remove the training wheels and let them cruise on two wheels.
After they’re mastered the basics of biking, you’ll just want to make sure your mini is riding on a model that fits their skill level. Whether that’s one with six gears or 21 gears should also be dependent on where they tend to ride, as city bikers might not need as many riding speeds as a mountain biker.
2. Don’t Skimp on Safety
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: Don’t forget to put helmets on your kids! The best ones will be the ones that fit their heads properly (i.e., not too loose and not too tight but with ample forehead coverage). However, the most important part is that they have to actually wear their helmet to make it effective. So, teach your kids to strap on a helmet every time they sit on their bike. Yup, even if they’re just riding up and down their driveway or on a grass path. You want to make sure their little noggins are safe.
And before you head out for the day (or the afternoon), you’ll want to do a quick safety check to make sure everyone’s mode of transport is up to par. That way you can spot any potential flat tires or broken chains before they become a major problem...like when you’re miles away from home.
But don’t stop there with the safety measures. You’ll also want to boost the visibility of your little one by adding reflective tape to their bike or trailer. Plenty of parents also add a flag to their trailer because they’re easily seen from almost any angle—and make it clear that you’ve got precious cargo.
Go ahead and get your kiddo a headlight and taillight for their bike, even if you don’t anticipate riding after dark. Since, as you probably already know, stuff happens and you might accidentally find yourself riding home past sunset. Plus, these lights will make pedaling at night more comfortable for even the youngest biker.
3. Pick Appropriate Bike Excursions
Until your kid is really confident in their biking skills and able to keep up with you, you’ll want to avoid taking your family on busy roads or city streets. With so many different factors to keep in mind, from oncoming traffic to pedestrians that dart out, quieter lanes or paths will make your excursion a more enjoyable experience. Plus, if you choose a route that’s quieter, it’ll be easier to communicate with your crew—which is especially handy if one member is particularly inclined to throw a temper tantrum. Two other bike path features to avoid? Hilly inclines and declines and anything with too many turns or curves, especially if your elementary-age biker only just graduated to two wheels.
And in order to keep eyes on the rider who might need the most support, have the least experienced (or, well, the least confident) member of your family ride first. Not only will they set the pace but they’ll be within your eyesight in case you need to give them verbal cues or just encourage them once their little legs start feeling tired.
Oh, and one more thing? Don’t forget to take lots of pictures to commemorate your first family bike ride!