Riding a bike is, for many kids, one of the first real tastes of independence they get. Cycling allows them to have more control over when and how they travel to visit friends, meet up at places that interest them, or go and do their favorite activities, rather than having to rely on getting a ride from parents or using public transport. It is also a fun activity in itself that lets them enjoy the good weather, get some exercise, and have fun riding around with their friends. There are other benefits to letting your childexplore or travel to places they go to regularly on a bike – it can help them learn more about the roads, which will help when they come to learn to drive, and if they learn to love cycling, they may choose it more in later life as an environmentally friendly way to get around.
Many of us have some great memories of riding bikes in the summer months in our own childhoods, but of course, a lot of things have changed and there is a general perception that things aren't as safe as they used to be. This doesn't mean your kids shouldn't get to enjoy cycling, but it is important to talk to them about how to stay safe when they do.
Teach Them to Plan Safe Routes
In general, it is best to teach kids to stick to routes they know and where there are good provisions for cyclists. Older kids with more experience getting around on bikes could be shown how to find good cycling routes to places they have not ridden to before using tools like Google Maps. Show them how to use the GPS on their cell phone and the Google Maps app if they don't already know, as this will help them avoid getting lost.
Your child should always wear a cycling helmet and ensure their cell phone is fully charged before they go out for a ride, in case they need to call you if they get into trouble or use the internet to help them if they are lost. As well as this, some other gear may be important to help them stay safe. A light on their bicycle and reflective clothing are important if your child is old enough to ride after dark, but can be good to have anyway in case of emergencies. It can also get very hot cycling in summer, so make sure you get them the best stainless steel water bottle, which can clip onto their bike, and remind them to fill it before they go out.
Safety in Numbers
While not always possible, remind your child that it is always safer to cycle with other people and that they should never go off anywhere on their own without telling someone where they are going and making sure they have a way to contact you if they need to.
These things, in addition to standard road safety and rules about staying safe when out and about in general (such as not talking to strangers), can help your child to enjoy their freedom on their bike this summer while staying safe.