Why your child should go on a cycling safety course

By Jamie Hill - 23 August 2018

FamilyHealthFitness

The recent cancellation of the Swindon Cycle Fest was a huge disappointment for parents and cycling enthusiasts in the region. Unfortunately, the weather disrupted the opportunity for local children to discover more about how they can get involved in local cycling clubs and events.

However, they also missed the chance to learn vital safety skills that they will need if they are planning to cycle on busy roads.  

Parents will be eager to ensure that they prepare their children to safely enjoy cycling and that they possess all the skills necessary. Many believe that the best way to teach children these skills is for them to attend a cycle safety course. Life Cycle UK promotes the healthy benefits of cycling whilst ensuring that boost safety knowledge amongst cyclists.

There are events throughout the country and Life Cycle UK have already hosted workshops in the area aimed at promoting cycling proficiency for 24 children aged 7-11. This event enhanced the children’s knowledge of the Highway Code and gave them the skills and confidence necessary to ensure they are responsible and safe road users.  

How can I teach my child about cycling safety?

The first thing to remember is that it is hugely important to lead by example. If you always wear a helmet when cycling then your children will also be much more likely to; you can also explain to them why it is so important to protect your head.

Whilst children will begin by cycling in safe traffic-free areas, it won’t be long before they will be able to cycle on the road. Therefore, it is important to teach them about signaling effectively whilst cycling. Indicating which way you are looking to turn alerts other road users to your intentions and ensures that they treat you with caution.

Of course, in order to ensure that other road users are aware of your signals, you will need to make sure that you can be clearly seen. A good way of ensuring that you are visible to other road traffic is to position yourself a little ahead of cars at traffic lights so you can be seen by larger vehicles. Vehicles such as buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) pose a particular problem as they have several blind spots, including directly below the driver, so it can be easy to miss a cyclist. Riding assertively is vital to remaining safe whilst cycling so you will need to teach your child how to interpret dangers on the road and how to avoid them.

Research funded by a solicitors firm specialised in bicycle accidents, shows that around 170,000 cyclists have a non-fault accident in the UK each year. One of the most common dangers and a leading cause of cycling fatalities occurs from large vehicles turning left as cyclists pass. Again, it is so important to make sure that other road users know where you are and what you are planning to do. If you think there may be a hazard ahead then you should adapt to it!

What to look for when buying a child’s first bike

Many parents may not consider how important their children’s first bike is, but there are several factors that need to be weighed up to ensure that it is an appropriate choice for them.

The weight of the bike is key. Heavier bikes are likely to make riding more difficult for children as well as make any longer rides far more tiring. Unfortunately, the cheaper bikes also tend to be the heaviest but it is well worth the investment.

Most children will not need a range of gears on their first bike. Although kids will want as many gears as possible to impress their friends, a one-gear model is the best option for most children when they have just started to ride. It’s worth introducing gears with their second bike when they are a little older and more experienced so they can then buildup to the more advanced bikes as they approached their teens.

Although it may seem like a sensible investment to buy a larger bike than your child currently requires, this will make it a lot trickier for them to ride and they may find it very uncomfortable. Remember, you shouldn’t have to stretch to reach the brakes or your knees to touch the handlebars as you pedal.

There are some fantastic local cycling routes that you can enjoy with your whole family before the kids return to school; just make sure that any children are well aware of how to keep safe on two wheels!

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