By, Jessica Frost, RiseVT – Franklin & Grand Isle Counties Wellness Specialist
Summertime is the perfect time to dust off the bike and get moving. A family bike ride offers an opportunity to be together and do something active. Even if your child is too young to pedal, spending time on a bike introduces them to a healthy, lifelong habit.
And here are some tips to make your bike ride smooth, safe and FUN!
- Protect your head. A helmet is first on the list of necessary items for your ride. It is the most effective way to prevent injury, and even death from a crash.
- Make sure that the bike fits properly. As parents, we are often tempted to buy a bike that a child will grow into, but this can sometimes make the ride uncomfortable and unsafe.
- For your littlest ones, a bike trailer can be the first step to introducing them to biking. Once they reach toddler stage, you can install a bike seat on your own bike.
- From ages 3-6, they may appreciate being on a tag-a-long style bike that attaches to your own. You may also want to try out a balance bike, which does not have pedals, but allows the child to push with their feet and develop the balance skills that they will need later on when they transition to a pedal bike.
- Once they are over 6 and they are riding their own bike, you will want to make sure that there is 1-3 inches between the child and the top bar, when their feet are flat on the ground.
- Dress for the weather. If it is a warm day, wear breathable, loose fitting clothes and closed toed sneakers. Keep your eye on the weather forecast so you can plan for potential rain or cool temperatures and pack the right gear to keep everyone comfortable.
- Wear bright clothing. Make sure that your clothing is bright and visible. Dark colors are often difficult for drivers to see right away. You want cars to see you.
- Check your ABC’s. Air, brakes, crank and chain. See if your tires need air, your brakes are functional and if your chain needs lubricating.
- Choose your route. Start short and flat and build up from there. The key is to make it enjoyable and fun so that the family wants to go again. Don’t be too ambitious the first time out. Hint: It also helps if you have a fun destination in mind, such as a river, lake or pond, a playground, a friend’s house or even a snack.
- Bring water. Make sure there is adequate access to drinking water. You can install water bottle holders on bicycles for easy access.
- Use lights. If you are biking at dusk, make sure to have lights clipped to your bikes and/or clothing. Reflective tape can also be used on equipment.
- Follow the rules of the road. Obey all traffic laws, including stop signs, stop lights and lane markings. Yield to pedestrians. Ride with traffic and signal when you make turns.
- Let them lead. Let your child set the pace for the day. It will make them feel good to be the leader and allow you to keep an eye on the traffic coming up behind you.
Take advantage of the summer! Biking is a great way to see your community up close and spend time together doing something healthy, active and fun.