Meet the Sullivans: Beginners Guide to Teaching Bike Safety

April 3, 2015

Beginners Guide to Teaching Bike Safety

Spring Break is here and it's a great reminder that the long, fun-filled days (open space and schedules) of summer are right around the corner! We've gotten used to our busy schedule, so the extra time we'll have in the summer is going to take a little getting used to. I've been jotting down ideas for activities to keep us busy, places we want to visit and things I want to teach Owen this Summer.

Summer Camps are a great way to keep the structure of a school year routine while still allowing children to have the fun freedoms of Summer. Last month I had the pleasure of getting to know more about the camps offered by Avid4 Adventure! They focus on giving their campers and students confidence and a sense of empowerment when it comes to exploring the great outdoors.

One of the activities at the top of our list is getting Owen on his bike more often. You may remember the balance bike that we bought for Owen when he turned 2? He's really into riding on it now that he and Keith have spent time together tinkering with the wheels and riding their bikes together. One of my main concerns with any activity for O is his safety.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Rohan Shahani, Avid4 Adventure’s regional manager. He gave us some great tips on biking riding for the little ones (you can find those below) and explained more about their camps and some of they great places they recommend to visit in the area!

Tips for Bicycle Safety and Confidence:

Helmet Safety! If the helmet fits properly, and the strap is tight enough, it should be hard for your child to fit the strap up into mouth. shake test.. helmet should not shake much, should always cover their forehead. Teach your child they must always wear a helmet, even when they're just touching the bike!

Seat Height! A good rule of thumb to help you get started is to have your child put their hands on their hips and lower the seat to that height. If the bike seat is at the correct height, your child will be on their tippy-toes when they try to touch their feet to the ground. Lowering the seat makes it easier and tends to make kids more comfortable, but that also means that pedaling will be more difficult.

A Good Start! Biking on something semi-soft (like a dirt pathway) and with a slight decline is a good place to start with little ones. The soft ground will make any falls easier to recover from and less scary, and the slight decline will help they get and keep going.

Walk to Ride! Start them off by asking them to walk along side the bike, then walking with the bike while straddling the seat, followed by sitting on to ride.

Stay Positive! Use positive and encouraging words to build confidence and discourage fear of falling. When they stumble or fall, say things like "You're working so hard to learn!" or "Wow you're so brave!" or just "You're doing a good job!"
Build Confidence! Teach safety, confidence and independence with the ABCDE's of bikes:

Air. Squeeze the tires and make sure they’re properly inflated.

Brakes. Make sure they are engaging and not rubbing. Spin the tires, then squeeze/push on them. Make sure they fully stop the wheel.

Chain. Check for rust, dirt, and proper lubrication. If need be, spray some chain oil (NEVER WD-40 – makes it sticky!) on a small part of the chain, then cycle is across the cogs. Hold a cloth against it to remove any excess oil while the chain is moving.

Derailleur. Make sure it’s working! Spin the pedals and change some gears. Avoid changing gears while the bike’s chain isn’t moving – it’ll lead to the chain falling off.

Everything Else. Look for any loose parts, seats, dangling bits, or weird noises. I put the front tires between my legs and twist the handlebars back and forth to make sure nothing’s going to come loose there, then pick up the bike (really!) and bounce it on both tires. If anything moves or falls off, I start this check over.

Now we're all ready for a safe and informed Summer on our bikes. We'd like to give a huge thanks to Rohan Shahani and Avid4 Adventure for all the helpful tips!
If you're like me and you're looking for some ideas to fill the summer with check out the Avid4 Adventure blog for some great tips and ideas for adventured with your kids! 

Saturday Spotlight


Sara McCarty said...

Awesome post! Can O already ride a bike? Mac can barely ride his big wheel. And thanks for the reminder that we need to get him a new (bigger) helmet. The one he's been wearing is probably a bit small for him.

Tawnya Faust said...

Great post!! I'm going to PIN this for when I teach Scarlett how to ride a bike, and can I just say, how cute does Owen look on his bike?! Does he love it?! I'm afraid S will still be too small this summer for one but every time we go to the store she wants to look at the bikes and try them out. Did you start with this bike or did Owen have a stridor bike?

Erin Vincent said...

Great tips! Thank you for sharing!

Colleen said...

Thank you!

Colleen said...

Thanks Tawnya! He loves his balance bike, which was and is his first bike. The orange bike he used in the pictures belongs to Avid4 Adventure and has pedals. He really liked it though and tried putting his feet on the pedals.

Colleen said...

No, he can't ride yet, but he enjoyed trying out a bike with pedals. We have a balance bike for his which he is still using to learn how to balance on.

EHayes said...

Great post!

Letetia M said...

Wonderful Guide! Thank you so much for sharing. I will certainly do the same!

Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom said...

Wonderful tips and suggestions!

I love biking season. Can't wait to get started!

Thanks for sharing.