1. It’s fun.
2. Cycling can teach a young child coordination and balance
3. Bicycle ownership teaches kids how to care for something, including maintenance and mechanics.
4. Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans. The recent epidemic of childhood obesity means that kids are more likely to become a statistic later on in life. A fun form of exercise, biking keeps kids moving and prevents the early onset of unnecessary weight gain. For those who think cycling is too dangerous for children, the health risks of not riding a bike could be just as deadly. Safety in numbers!
5. Cycling teaches children independence. For older children a bicycle is a freedom machine, getting them to the library, ceramics studio, violin lessons, the grocery store to grab a snack (or some needed ingredients for dinner) all by themselves.
6. Being outside and learning to properly dress for the elements tunes children into the seasonal changes. This creates an appreciation of the natural world and an awareness of our environmental responsibility.
7. Cycling the streets teaches kids about road safety and prepares them if or when they start driving, plus they’ll be more aware of other pedestrians and cyclists once they’re operating a vehicle.
Here is some recommended gear for the young cyclist:
- Child Trailers. I cannot speak highly enough about Burley trailers. You need something safe and durable and Burley is the best. For the infant or young child that isn’t ready to hold on, the Burley bee is the place to start. You can usually find a good Burley trailer on craigslist.
- Helmet. Personally, I prefer the Bern Unlimited helmets with their patented Zip Mold technology. The company makes all sport head protection so the helmets not only meet bicycle helmet standards but skate and ski standards as well. The Nino / Nina helmet for children meet the CPSC and European CEN bicycle helmet standards.
- Bicycle with training wheels. Any small 12 inch wheel bicycle will do. There are bicycles without pedals (or training wheels) too, these are really helpful so that children can kick along and learn how to balance. However you can opt to just simply take off the pedals until they’re ready to put them back on.
- Trailercycle. This is a one wheel bicycle tandem piece that attaches to an adult bicycle so that young cyclists can ride along safely behind at your speed. Again, I’ve found Burley to be the best in bicycle trailers. The Burley Kazoo attaches to their rear rack instead of the seat post (like their counterparts) which makes for a more stable ride. The Kazoo also weighs less than other models making your job easier and more enjoyable.