Cycling with young children as non-pedalling passengers
Even the most competent cyclists can find the prospect of taking their young child out on the bike a very daunting prospect. It’s a big step but sharing your passion for cycling can be a great bonding experience.
So, how best to start cycling with your young kids while being confident that they’re safe? We’ve got some top tips and detailed advice to make it a successful, fun experience for the whole family.
Regardless of whether you plan to use a child seat or trailer, or go off-road or on, your little one will need good neck strength before they can join you on a bike ride. This means you’ll have to wait until they reach approximately 12 months. You’ll then probably ride like this until your little one is four or five.
Once your child is ready to get involved you’ll most likely start with either a bike seat or a trailer. There are benefits to each and the choice will come down to what works for you, your child and the routes you’re going to take together.
Cycling with a child seat vs cycling with a trailer
Trailers – If you’re not too confident in your own abilities or have concerns about safety, you may opt for a trailer. These usually have two or three wheels, are attached to the back of the bike and are pulled behind. The benefit here being that your precious cargo is more stable, more protected and more visible to other traffic.
A slightly less important, though maybe quite persuasive benefit of a trailer is the ease with which you can haul all the extra luggage that comes with taking the kids out.
Child seats – More assured riders, who can comfortably adjust to the compromised handling that comes with using a seat, might find that their child is more engaged, feeling more like a part of the action. You can talk to each other easily and keep them entertained as they learn what it feels like to get out and about on a bike.
You may feel that you can go further and tackle more complex routes with your child in a seat. The additional width of a trailer could mean some of your favourite trails are off limits and the extra weight might cut your journey short.
Cycling kit and clothing for young passengers
Helmet – Though some say that a helmet is not required for a child travelling in a bike trailer, the extra safety precaution is always worth taking. It’s best anyway to instil this as part of the bike riding experience from a young age, making it less of an issue further down the line. Of course, if you’re using a bike seat then there’s no argument, a good helmet is essential.
Clothing – There’s no specific clothing required to be worn by child passengers on a bike, but it should be comfy and ideally provide a little protection should there be a minor accident. You’ll want to remember that your passenger isn’t doing any of the work so will probably need an extra layer or two to avoid getting cold.
Kickstand – One challenge you may not have considered is how difficult it can be to get your little one in and out of a bike seat or trailer without assistance. A good, sturdy kickstand is your friend here but regardless of how strong it is, you should never leave a child unattended in a child seat.
Planning a cycle route with young passengers
Irrespective of your own cycling ability, it’s always advisable to take extra time planning a route for you and your infant passenger. You’ll probably want to start with a shorter route than is standard for you and at first may want to avoid roads. A local park with good cycle paths is always a safe option for your test ride.
Wherever you plan to go, you’ll have a better time with your child if you’ve already practised the route alone. This way you’re more likely to avoid unexpected obstacles. If you can, try practising with some extra weight, a bag of potatoes makes for a good substitute.
Cycling with your child should be fun
How and when you do decide to take your child cycling, remember first and foremost to relax and have fun. You’re sharing something you love with someone you love, it shouldn’t be a negative, stressful experience. Children take cues from their parents, if you’re having a great time, chances are they will too.
We stock a range of reliable bike trailers and kids helmets for maximum safety when taking your young children cycling.
If you’re looking for further advice, pop into your local Raleigh stockist, or contact us via phone or live chat.
We’d be happy to help.