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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Biking with Young Children--Choosing a Bike and Teaching Safe Biking Skills by Trisha Roberts

Biking is a great outdoor activity for the entire family! When is it feasible to start your toddler on a bike? 2 and 3-year old children are able to start using a tricycle when they can reach the pedals.  Nowadays tricycles come in a variety of sizes that allow young children to start biking.  There are folding tricycles
Red Folding Tricycle
Red Folding Tricycle
that are extremely portable, easy to store, and are a perfect fit small children.  They easily fit in the trunk of a car and can accompany you to the park or grandmother's house!

Folding Tricycle Stores Easily
Folds and Stores Easily.  Fits in Backseat or Trunk of Car!
There is a new type of bike for young children learning to balance and ride called a “strider”  or "balance" bike.  It is a small bicycle without pedals that basically lets children learn the skill of balancing on a bike without the necessity of pedaling. 

Strider Bike or Balance Bike
Strider or Balance Bike
They 'stride' or run with their feet on either side of the bike frame.

Some tricycles are 3-in-1 units, allowing a child to use the toy initially with just their feet, Flintstone-style and then progress to feet on pedals with an adult helping to push and steer, and finally, to propelling the tricycle independently.
3 in 1 Bike
3-in-1 Bike

When choosing a bike you should take into consideration the child's size, level of coordination and balance, and motivation. There are four  basic components to learning to ride a bike:  
  • Ability to place and maintain feet on the bike pedals
  • Coordination--the smooth, reciprocal motion of the lower extremities (legs)
  • Balance
  • Steering
Adaptations may need to be made for an individual child. A child must have the balance to sit independently, so a child with poor trunk control may need a seat with a higher back support--you may need to adapt a tricycle or look for one with more support. If your child is vertically challenge, you may need to secure small blocks of wood to the pedals to adapt them to their shortened legs.

When teaching the components of biking, it is important to stress Biking Safety as well.  It is essential to wear a helmet when biking or participating in other sports activities where falls are common (skating, skate boarding, etc.).  Proper road rules and etiquette should be taught from the very beginning. Learning to stop at stop signs, yield the right of way, allowing pedestrians the right of way in crosswalks, and staying alert and attentive to surroundings are important skills to keep children and others safe and also serve as building tools for later driving skills.  

A fun way to teach driving rules and safety  is to set up a small obstacle course on a driveway, playground, or bike park.  You can use small traffic cones, pre-made signs, or cardboard boxes with magic marker symbols. Invite the whole neighborhood to participate!
Street and Traffic Signs
Teach Safety and Life Skills in a Fun, Interactive Way!

Summer is almost here--Get outside and Enjoy a Great Bike Ride whatever your age or Skill level!

See our Blog Post about Strider or Balance Bikes for starting young children!  

Author:  Trisha Roberts

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1 comment:

  1. My grandson just got a balance bike and loves it! He is only three and can zoom all over the park! I am very impressed. Great article, Trisha.