Listen closely and you can hear the collective sigh of relief from parents across the country. It’s time for the kids to go back to school! It’s been great to spend more time with them over the summer, but there’s comfort in establishing regular routines again.
You’ve been busy getting school supplies, new clothes, lunch gear and snacks. For the kids there’ll be the excitement of seeing old friends, meeting new ones, getting a new teacher and for many, a new school.
Many children will be biking to school, some for the first time. The new school year may even inspire you to bike to school with your child. Whether your child is a veteran or novice cyclist there are some steps you need to take to ensure your child leads off on the right pedal. Cycling is an excellent form of exercise for children. It’s a kid’s first real taste of independence. Teach your children the responsibility that comes with this privilege.
Check the Bike Out
Make sure your kids bikes are mechanically sound. Chances are these bikes have been well used over the summer so some wear and tear is inevitable. Check brakes, tires, tire pressure, gears and bolts. Kids grow quickly so make sure the saddle is the right height. Add legally required finishing touches like a bell, lights and reflectors so that your child is seen and heard. Involve your kids in this activity so they learn bike maintenance and develop pride in their bikes.
Never let kids ride without a helmet. Helmets need to fit properly and be in good condition. Check for visible damage like cracks or worn straps. Teach your kids how helmets should be worn and fit. Make this a routine part of pre-ride inspection. When they take their helmets off, teach them to store their helmets in a designated place away from the wind and rain. At school, helmets need to be hung inside on a hook and not left on the handlebars.
Practice the Route
When plotting your child’s route to school look for streets with less traffic. Teach your kids to watch for speeding cars, pedestrians, traffic lights, traffic signs, intersections and driveways. Test out the back-to-school route with a few family rides. This gives you an opportunity to assess your child’s bike readiness. Is your child obeying traffic signs, using proper hand signals and aware of surroundings?
Teach your kids to ride facing the traffic. Ride with your children, at least initially. Within a week or two they’ll likely want to ride with schoolmates. Teach your kids to ride single file. Instil in them not to let other kids ride on their handlebars or do any kind of double riding. Kids all love to experiment on their bikes but riding to and from school is not the time for it.