Cycling is a great way to stay active and spend quality time together as a family. However, when you have the responsibility of making sure your children don’t have an accident, cycling as a family can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re not confident on the roads.
How to stay safe on the bike
Cycling as a family should be an opportunity to explore the outdoors together not a stressful experience. Cycling with children can also make them better road users and prepare them for when they have to use the roads alone.
To help you to stay road safe and to avoid an accident, we have created a guide to cycling as a family, which aims to equip you with the information you, as a parent, and your children need to cycle safely.
Start with short bike rides
If you and your children aren’t used to cycling close to the traffic, it’s a good idea to start with short bike rides on less busy roads. This will help your children to learn more about the rules of the roads and to become aware of other road users. It also allows you to see how they react to situations like corners and pot holes. You can increase the length of your bike rides and change the routes as the family grows with confidence.
Be prepared and plan your route beforehand to avoid any surprises, such as major junctions or cycling lanes just stopping and putting you into the road. Make sure your child can stop, start and steer on their own, the bike is roadworthy and they are comfortable on it. Before setting off, explain to the children that they should listen to your instructions and make sure they know their left and right to avoid making a wrong and potentially dangerous turn.
Get into position
Once everyone is comfortable on their bikes, it’s time to get into position. If you are riding with another adult, choose the most confident cyclist out of the two of you to lead the pack. The children should then ride in between the two adults. If you are leading the group, be confident but pace yourself and listen to the children and the other adult, try not to pull ahead so you get split up and cars can pass one of the group and then ‘sit’ in between you breaking up the ‘pack’. If you are cycling on your own with children, you should always cycle behind them so that you can watch them in front and call out instructions. It is legal to ride two abreast, so you can cycle side by side if you need to do so. Remember to cycle on the left side of the road and keep a distance of a bike-length and a half between you.
Lead by example
Go back to basics for your own riding, don’t pass on bad habits! So it’s look, signal, manoeuvre and keep a watch out for parked cars that have people sitting in them in case they open a door or pull off. Whether you are a pair of adults or just one, we recommend you always wear a helmet and bright clothing and make sure the children do too. If in doubt, pull over and stop where it is safe to do so; cycling with children involves lots of starting and stopping!
Recap on the rules of the road
After your bike ride, it’s worth sitting down together and talking them through the experience; explaining any risk hazards you overcame and answering any questions they may have about your instructions. Remind them of what they have learnt, what to do when you approach a junction, and remember to stay positive and encourage them to ride safely.
You shouldn’t feel nervous or scared when cycling on the roads with children. The key to enjoying a family cycling trip is to ride with confidence and remember the basic rules of the road to avoid a cycling accident. Most vehicle drivers really do ‘get’ that families want to cycle and behave well around you.
Hopefully this guide has provided you with the information you and your family needs for a safe and successful bike ride.
Thompsons Solicitors is a personal injury law firm that’s dedicated to standing up for the injured. Our personal injury lawyers have decades of experience in supporting victims of road traffic accidents and cycling accidents, helping them to secure compensation.