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 Family Biking
Biking Bike Safety Rules Bike Hand Signals Junior or U19 Racing

Biking is becoming more and more of a family activity and it is something that kids love to do. If you already have bikes then this activity is free.  It is one of the best forms of exercise and a great way to burn off some energy.  In addition, it will get the family out into the fresh air for a while. You can ride as part of a vacation or simply plan an outing around town. Biking as a family can be more fun than you think and much better than riding alone. Parents, if you haven't been on a bike in a while don't fret.  Riding a bike is like swimming and once you learn how to do it, you never forget.

Any time you do anything with children it is important to create a game plan.  When biking with the family it is important to determine where you are going in advance. Be sure to pick a fun route.   It is beneficial to keep rides flat when possible.  Remember a small incline for you can fell like a mountain to your child.  Short rides at first work best because it will give the kids a sense of accomplishment.  Avoid traffic whenever possible. Try to use as many quiet, residential roads, or cycle paths as you can. Park paths and boardwalks at the beach are terrific when traveling with youngsters. Make sure you know the exact distance and the approximate time it will take to complete the excursion.  It is important that everyone in the group be able handle the distance.  You will want plenty of roadside attractions so you can stop along the way.  Ponds, streams, playgrounds, ice cream stands, and picnic areas are great spots for the kids get take a break. 

Remember that everyone in the group should always ride together.  You will need to ride at or near the pace of the slowest rider.  In order to keep the ride interesting for older children you may consider one of the many bike seats, trailers and tag-along bikes available on the market for young children so that they do not slow down the ride too much.


 
Kids Seats Best Age: 1-3
Approximate Weight: up to 40 lbs.
Cost Range: $40 - $150
Child is close to parent.
Bike Trailers Best Age: 1-4
Approximate Weight: up to 100 lbs.
Cost Range: $100 - $500
Can carry two kids.
Tag-along Bikes Best Age: 4-8
Approximate Weight: up to 85 lbs.
Cost Range: $100 - $400
Kids can actively pedal and observe rules of the road.

Keep you bikes easily accessible.  If you have to dig the bike out of storage you are less likely to go for a ride than if they are available for you to just hop on and go.

Where to Find Bike Trails?

If you are interested in bike accessible trails in a natural or even historical setting click here for the National Park Service web site. This site will allow you to search for parks in your area by selecting your state from a map of the United States.  Click here for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy,  another great source for finding detailed information on bike trails, walking trails, equestrian trails, hiking and running trails.  In addition to these sites you can check with your local bike shop.  You will find that the experts in your local bike shop will be happy to share the great routes that they know about

Items Needed for a Bike Ride

  • Small first aid kit

  • Helmets

  • High energy, healthy snacks

  • Water bottles

  • Bike lock

  • Small air pump

  • Camera

  • Map of area

  • Sunscreen

  • Plastic trash bag

  • Cell phone

  • Backpack to hold everything

  • Trash bag

  • Bike tire sealer and tire patch kit

 Selecting Your Child's Bike Size

Coordination and experience are important factors to consider when determining the proper size bike for your child.  A tall child who lacks confidence and coordination may need a slightly smaller bike for comfort and control.  A small, well coordinated child may be able to go with a bike slightly larger.  It is also important to consider brakes on the bike when selecting as well.  Remember that a hand brake is sometimes difficult for a child to squeeze and coaster brakes tend to be easier for them.  The problem is that larger bikes tend to have hand brakes so keep this in mind if your child is tall for their age.  Their are some bike manufacturers that will have both types of brakes on the bike to make it easier for your child to become familiar with the hand breaks.

You should never buy a bike expecting your child to grow into it.  A bike that is too big for your child is harder to ride, and can be very dangerous.

Children's bike sizes are determined by wheel diameter rather than height and frame size.  The table below is a helpful guide to use as a starting point for bike size but is not a substitute for an expert opinion.

Age Child's Inseam Bike Size
2 - 4 years 14 -17 inches 12 inches
4 - 6 years 16 - 20 inches 14 inches
5 - 8 years 18 - 22 inches 16 inches
6 - 9 years 20 - 24 inches 18 inches
7 - 10 years 22 - 25 inches  20 inches
9  and over 24 - 28 inches 24 inches
  • While standing over the bike's crossbar with both feet flat on the ground your child should clear 1 to 3 inches.

  • When sitting on the bike seat with both hands on the handlebars you child should be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground.

  • He/she should be able to bet on and off the bike without difficulty.

  • A comfortable reach of the handlebars is extremely important for gaining proper control of steering.  Have your child pretend to play the piano on the handlebars.  His/her back should be straight.

  • He/she should be able to stop the bike using hand brakes without fumbling for the levers.

Bike Helmets

Bike helmets are necessary to protect the head from injury when riding a bike.  They are available in adult and child sizes and cost anywhere from $20 to $70.  The sizing of the helmet is very important to ensure proper protection.  Your child will enjoy his or her helmet more if you let him or her help to choose it.

  • Helmets must meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Standard and display a label stating that it meets the standard. You may find a CPSC, ASTM, ANSI, or a Snell sticker on older helmets.

  • The helmet should rest low and flat on the forehead.  You should have a width of one or two fingers between the eyebrow and the helmet.

  • Use foam pads inside the helmet to ensure a snug fit so it doesn't move on the head.

  • You should be able to fit one finger between the helmet chin strap and the child's chin. Have your child open their mouth wide.  The helmet should pull down.  If it does not then you need to tighten the chin strap.

  • Have them shake their head from side to side. If the helmet slides then adjust the straps around the ears. Straps should be flat and should form a Y, with the strap adjusters right under the ears.


Pictures compliments of kidshealth.org