Cycling can be a fantastic way to keep fit, explore new places and take time out with family. Before you set off on two wheels, however, you need to make sure you and the kids are ready to take to the road. The thought of taking the kids out with you might seem a little daunting at first, but, with a few road safety tips, they can become your perfect, safe cycling buddy. Here, Izzy from PassSmart, a company for new drivers, has created a guide to cycling safely.
Firstly, you need to get yourself kitted out. Of course, you and the kids both need to make sure you’ve got correctly fitted helmets. In order to make sure you’ve got the right size, you need to measure your heads with a measuring tape, placing it about 1cm above your eyebrows. Match the size using the helmet’s guide, and try the helmet on to check it fits. It should sit just above your eyebrows, and shouldn’t move around when you shake your head. When fitting yours and your childrens’ helmets, remember to make sure it’s a comfortable but firm fit.
You should wear bright clothes even when cycling during the day. This will make you immediately visible to fellow cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. If the weather is a bit grey (and let’s face it, it usually is over here), you and the kids should wear high-vis clothing. Making yourself as visible to others as possible is the key.
Getting out there
Once you’ve made sure their tyres are fully inflated, the chain is oiled and they’ve got suitable clothes on, it’s time to get some practical teaching in. They might have already completed the Bikeability (cycling proficiency) programme at school, but if not, you should begin with the basics.
Teaching them to be road aware is a crucial part of the process. Constantly remind them that they must be aware of what’s around them at all times, and pay attention to road markings. The likelihood is that they won’t be cycling alone until they reach a certain age, but it’s a good idea to teach them about the rules of the road anyway.
Learning about give way, stop signs and who has right of way is a crucial part of becoming a safe cyclist. As drivers, we’re used to constantly checking our mirrors, looking for road markings and thinking about what other drivers might do. For kids, however, this is all new. Practice on a quiet, residential road. Remind them that just because they can see a vehicle or pedestrian, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can see them. Teach them about being a defensive cyclist, and to expect the unexpected!
Familiarise them with what different road markings mean and how they should response to them. They don’t need to know the highway code page by page – there’s no point in overloading them with information!
Teach them they need to stick to the left, and help them to master the art of indicating whilst cycling one-handed. It’s important that they learn to make their own judgements, so think of some possible scenarios and ask them what they’d do. Ask what they’d do if, for example, they wanted to turn right at a junction, or there was a car trying to overtake them.
Planning your route
Some routes pose more risks than others. Of course, if you’re cycling in a small village or rural area, there’s going to be different obstacles than if you’re driving in a busy urban area, so it’s important to plan your route carefully.
Don’t just calculate the fastest route. Find the most cyclist-friendly journey and think about the time of day you’ll be traveling it. Avoid rush hour and, if possible, don’t set out when it’s dark or getting dark. Encourage them to think about what they’re likely to come across when cycling certain routes. In rural areas, for example, there might be horse riders or tractors to contend with, whilst in urban areas you’re more likely to come across cars, buses and pedestrians.
Enjoy your ride!
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! Cycling is a fun way to stay healthy, and is the perfect way to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Stay safe, and enjoy your two-wheeled adventures!
This guide to safe cycling was written by Izzy Guarella from PassSmart.com; the company helping young drivers get on the road.
This post comes thanks to PassSmart.