Your kids can enjoy more benefits than ever with a school run that switches the backseat of a car for a bike saddle. Not only does cycling to school mean more regular exercise for kids, but it can also save you money on petrol and public transport.
However, while it’s all well and good to encourage your budding Victoria Pendleton or Chris Boardman to take to the roads, it’s very important to consider their safety and well-being.
So, before they head out on two-wheeled adventures, it’s important to teach your child the rules of the road. Here are some top tips to keep kids safe when riding their bike to school.
Bright cycle clothing
Your child may not thank you for this one but dressing them in bright clothing is important when travelling to school by bike. You want them to be seen! There are lots of options available on the Halfords website for kids cycling clothing, including vest jackets which are easy to wear over school clothing, making it the perfect option. Warm clothing is particularly important during winter cycling due to the cold, dark mornings riding to school as well as cycling home.
Also be sure to add both a front and rear light to their bike, plus a rear reflector. You can then be safe in the knowledge that your little one is easy to see when out on their bike.
Finally, make sure they have a bike bell so that everyone can hear and see them coming.
Tight fitting clothes
Before your child sets off, it’s always worth checking if their clothes are loosely fitted or tight.
Baggy trousers may seem like an investment for growing kids, but they can get caught in bike chains or wheel spokes. Either get them to tuck baggy trousers into their socks or cycle in a pair of shorts in summer.
Find a bike helmet fit for purpose
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting a bike helmet that’s too big for your little one. For a bike helmet to be effective, it needs to fit correctly.
Here are a few tips on making sure you get the right size bike helmet for your child:
- Eye check – put the bike helmet on your child’s head and get them to look up. They should be able to see the bottom rim of the helmet and a gap of one or two fingers between their eyebrows.
- Ear check – the straps of the helmet should form a V under their ears when fastened.
- Mouth check – get them to open their mouth as wide as possible. The straps should be snug on their skin and head without moving around everywhere.
If your child wants a helmet that balances style as well as safety, don’t worry! We have lots of stylish options including the Apollo Twinkles Kids Helmet and the Halfords Kids Camo Helmet that’ll keep them looking cool and safe.
If you’re still not sure whether the helmet is the correct fit, head over to our advice article for a guide to finding the correct fitting helmet.
Pick the perfect bike
When thinking of bike safety, it’s easy to forget about the most important piece of equipment of all: the bike.
The perfect fitting bike is not simply about comfort, but safety too. If your child is overstretching for the brakes or their knees are brushing against the handlebars, it’s going to affect their control over the bike. Our guide to kids’ bike sizing can help you to find the right fit for your child.
Bikes also require lots of care, especially if they’re used regularly. Conduct regular bike checks to ensure the main components are in working order and ultimately safe. If you’re not confident with this, why not bring it to us to look over for you? You can discover our range of bike services over at Halfords.com.
Keep the bike safe
You’ve got your child the perfect bike. They’ve got all the bike safety equipment they require. Now you need to protect the bike!
The Halfords Essential Kids’ Bike Lock is easy to carry in a bag and will keep the bike secure. It also comes in a cool colour scheme!
If you’re worried about a misplaced key and an impromptu trip to school to break the bike free, consider one of our many combination bike locks. Just as secure, there are plenty of compact options so that your child will have no problem carrying their lock to school.
Map it out
Picking a cycle route that’s suitable for your child is vital! Try to avoid main roads and busy junctions. Most towns and cities now have designated cycling routes and lanes, so it’s best to stick to these wherever possible.
Limber up and get involved! For peace of mind and your own enjoyment, dig out your bike and ride with them. If they’re scared that you’re going to ruin their ‘street cred’, just agree to turn back before you reach the school. Or better still, have a practise ride at a weekend. This will be a great opportunity to give your kid a refresher on the rules of the road.
Ultimately, you will feel much better in the knowledge that your child is confident with their route.
Cycle as a family
Why limit cycling to school days? Take advantage of holidays and weekends to explore the variety of great family cycling routes available in the UK. We even have a dedicated blog exploring the UK’s best cycle and scooter routes for more inspiration.
Cycling with your child will help build your child’s riding skills and confidence on the bike – and you may even end up with the next cycling pro on your hands!
The Green Cross Code
Whether on a bike ride or walking to school, your child will need to cross a road at some point, and they can do so safely with the help of the Green Cross Code. It’s something that we all learnt as children, and you want your little one to know the steps off by heart. As a reminder, these are:
- Think– Find a safe place to cross the road.
- Stop– Stop at the edge of the kerb, making sure you can see the traffic. Never stand on the road.
- Look and listen– Check around for traffic, looking to your right-hand side first, then your left-hand side, and finally to the right again. Listen for oncoming traffic too.
- Wait– Don’t cross until it’s safe to do so and if you’re at a pedestrian crossing, wait until all the vehicles have come to a standstill.
- Look and listen (again!)– Once you think it’s safe, look and listen one last time before crossing the road.
- Cross safely– Walk across the road making sure not to run or skip as you could fall over.
There you have it: to ensure your child’s safety when cycling to school, make sure they are equipped properly, have the correct size bike and know their route, and you can send them off to school on their bike with confidence. For more cycling help and guidance, head over to our advice centre.