Try cycling - it's great fun!
Cycling, whether it’s a day to day activity, or an occasional adventure, is a great way to help keep you and the rest of the family healthy. Getting on our bikes more often can help us on the way to making the small changes that can bring short and long term benefits to your health, the environment and your purse.
Cycling is something that really is so simple. All you need is a roadworthy bike and some basic safety gear and then all it just takes a little bit of practice!
Cycling can be enjoyed by most people whatever their age. But, by encouraging kids to cycle from an early age and getting them to take their ‘Bikeability’ test, will equip them with a skill for life.
Cycling is something the whole family can enjoy
Most of us played on bikes when we were growing up, and we can all remember how much fun it was. Today, there are often concerns about safety but, with a bit of planning, it is often possible to find routes that avoid busy roads. There are so many choices for where your bike adventure might take you! You could visit a play-park, the funfair, the beach or perhaps the cinema. If the weather’s nice maybe you could even take a picnic. If it’s less sunny, a nice warm café or family-friendly pub will do the trick for a quick pit stop.
Half the fun of a bike-trip is deciding where to go. The internet is a great tool for planning trips and there are plenty of useful sites where families can find out about nearby cycle routes that suit their level of ability.
Sustrans is the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity, with lots of cycle routes around the country. Visit Sustrans for lots of great cycle routes and to find out more.
Planning your route can also be part of the fun! For practical help, try the Transport Direct cycle route planner.
Local cycle groups are a great place to meet fellow cyclists and make new friends. There may also be bike clubs in your area that your children can join and explore in the safety of a larger group, giving you a bit of free time as well.
When it comes to getting on our bikes as a family, having fun is key. Start slowly and keep the first few trips short or take regular breaks, because one mile can seem like five to tired little legs!
For more tips on cycling fun for all the family, download:
Family cycling fun (PDF, 820 KB)
Buying guide and bike maintenance
Buying a bike needn’t be as costly as you might think! There are all sorts of bikes available and the choice can seem overwhelming, but a general rule is to choose a bike that suits the places you will be cycling in.
It’s important that you make a balanced choice. Bikes with suspension might look cool, but can be expensive. It’s better to compromise - for example by buying a bike with front suspension at the very most and with good quality parts that will last. It’s important to remember that the more parts a bike has, the more there is that could go wrong.
Buying a really cheap bike can be a false economy. Investing in a good bike means that it will last until it has been grown out of - so that it can be passed on to younger brothers and sisters afterwards, saving money in the long run.
Second-hand bikes are another good option. You can look up adverts in the local paper or shops, or try an online auction site. As long as you know how to check a bike thoroughly before buying - you could end up with a real bargain!
Remember, taking good care of a bike will keep maintenance costs down to a minimum. Things to look out for are keeping the chain oiled, tyres pumped, and regularly checking the brakes!
Bike safety is easy!
Staying safe on your bike is not as tricky as it might seem. Follow these simple rules to help you and your children stay protected and be prepared.
- Make sure the bike fits. Your child must both be and feel fully in control of their bike. They should be able to put both feet on the floor when they’re first starting to learn.
- Helmets are a must. Long-sleeve tops and trousers offer added protection, as do elbow and knee pads.
- Be seen to be safe. Ensure maximum visibility on the road with light-coloured clothing. Fluorescent clothing is even better, especially in dim light and definitely at night.
- When riding at night a working white front light and red back light, plus a red rear reflector are required - it’s the law!
- To help prepare your children, encourage them to take part in Bikeability. Bikeability is the new name for the Cycling Proficiency test and gives kids the skills and confidence they need to ride on roads. Many schools offer this to kids in Year
Visit the Bikeability website for more information and cycle safety courses.