Learning to ride a two-wheeler is a rite of passage for many children and families. There are many schools of thought on how best to go about it. Should you use training wheels or not? How about tricycles and run bikes? When should you start teaching your child to ride on two wheels? And, perhaps the biggest question of all: how can you, as the parent running behind the bike, avoid cramps and muscle pain from contorting yourself into strange positions as you try to help your child balance? In this kid-friendly Vancouver feature, we kick off summer and cycling season by rounding up some tips for making the transition to two wheels.
Tips for Helping Your Kids Learn to Ride a Two-Wheeler
1. Tricycles, Training Wheels and Run Bikes
Many experts suggest starting with a tricycle early on, to help your child learn about pedaling and steering. Then, once your child is big enough for a two-wheeler, you can opt for a bicycle with training wheels. By gradually raising the training wheels, you’ll be helping your child learn to balance until they’re spending most of their time on two wheels and the trainers can come off. Other experts suggest skipping the tricycles and training wheels altogether, and opting for a run bike (or balance bike). These two-wheelers are low to the ground, and don’t have any pedals. They allow children to propel themselves forward with their feet on the ground, allowing them to easily learn to balance. Since there are many different opinions on this, choosing all comes down to what you’re most comfortable with for your child.
2. When to Start?
There’s no hard-and-fast rule about what age to start your child on a two-wheeler. Most kids start somewhere between ages three and eight, with About.com saying the average is a little past age five. When your child starts will depend on their size, physical abilities, interest level and the time of year. After all, not many people want to head outside and give bike lessons in the middle of winter. The important thing is to make sure that everyone’s having fun. And if you try once and it doesn’t take, you can try again in a few months or a year.
3. Choosing a Kid-Friendly Vancouver Location
One key thing when it comes to children and bicycles is choosing a kid-friendly Vancouver riding location. Small children and traffic aren’t a good mix, and this is especially true if they’re wobbling along, trying to learn to ride a bike. The ideal riding spot won’t have any cars, won’t have too many people, and will be relatively level. If you’re looking for suggestions, we found a list of kid-friendly Vancouver cycling spots.
4. Safety First!
Of course, no discussion of kids and bicycles would be complete without discussing safety. Before heading out, make sure that your child has appropriate safety gear – especially a helmet – and that it all fits properly. Cover basic traffic safety rules, and outline what to do if a car, pedestrian, pet or another cyclist approaches. If your child does something unsafe while riding, stop them and address it right away. By establishing the rules at the outset, you’ll be setting the tone for safe cycling early.
5. Turn to the Experts
If this is all too overwhelming for you, you may want to consider enlisting help. There are kid-friendly Vancouver classes, programs and summer day camps that can help your kids make the transition from training wheels to two wheels and beyond. If your kids need a hand learning the rules of the road, if you’re not sure how to properly size a bike for your child, or if you just can’t handle running along behind your child as they wobble along, the experts can help.
What about you – what are your tips for helping your kids get on two wheels? Leave a reply and share your wisdom!
This article was sponsored by Pedalheads®. From training wheels to trails, Pedalheads® provides safe, fun and challenging bike camps for children ages 2–12. During the past 18 years we have taught over 120,000 children to ride, using our unique teaching method, combined with small classes and exceptional instructors. Our toddler programs are designed to introduce children to the fun of riding, whether on run bikes, ride-on toys, trikes or training wheels. Half-day camps feature 2½ hours of safety, skills and bike proficiency instruction for beginners to advanced riders who are ready for road and trail riding. All-day camps also offer bike-themed games and activities, plus additional riding practice.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.