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Bike SA - Teaching Children to Ride

Tips for Teaching Children How to Ride

Tip #5: Discover good/safe ways to get to school on bikes and on foot

Bike SA's helpful tips for parents teaching children to ride and raising their road safety awareness. Please refer to the 'Cycling and the Law' booklet published by Government of SA for the road rules in South Australia.

  1. Be Patient!!!! Teaching kids to ride confidently takes many hours, as they tire easily and tend to lose concentration
  2. Check the bike fits (they should be able to touch ground when sitting on the saddle) and reach handlebars and control the brakes and gears
  3. When practising start off well away from traffic, (use a park or trail) and teach riding skills before going onto the road
  4. Teach practical riding skills - riding in straight line, one handed, over shoulder, riding at different speeds, stopping on a mark, turning to avoid obstacles
  5. Discover good/safe ways to get to school on bikes and on foot
  6. Ride or walk with your child. If you are planning to ride to school try the route out on the weekend (try Sunday, then move to a Saturday morning when it is usually busier). Walk/cycle part way stopping 5 mins short. Mix it up to keep you child interested
  7. Start off cycling on footpath (legal for children under the age of 12), parents can ride on the road to lead or cycle side by side
  8. Talk to your children about what they are doing, alert to dangers and encourage safe riding
  9. Dress to be seen wear bright colours
  10. Be aware the footpath has a different set of risks (cars backing out of driveways, other pedestrians etc)
  11. Teach your child rules that apply to them (for starters). Discuss with them the rules that get broken.
  12. Get your child to lead/practise. Ask them questions and use Instructor reversal methods. Encourage your child to make decisions. Observe your child riding and give them feedback. Will they make mistakes - YES, lots. "No, the other left!" Practise makes perfect, so practise often
  13. Graduate into using road and path, and perhaps all road if appropriate. You can ride two abreast with you on the outside if their bike skills are good enough
  14. Graduate into cycling independently when you are satisfied with their understanding and skill, or ride part way with them
  15. How old is old enough?? It's up to you as the parent to decide when your child has sufficient skill to ride safely. Bike SA advise riding with your children until at least mid primary school age- as they don't usually have cognitive and decision making skills to consistently make safe riding decisions
  16. Inform kids about the journey ahead, it maybe a different way than usual
  17. Practice make progress, don't expect kids to understand all the road rules on their first ride on the road
  18. Practice through repetition, quiz kids often about the same scenario (How far should we ride from the side of the road? Approaching an intersection, where do I need to look?) They will eventually get it
  19. Allow extra time to get to school, kids don't need to feel time pressures when concentrating on riding on the road. This can lead to poor decision making
  20. When at an intersection have bike prepared to take off quickly, practice power position Left foot down, right foot ready to push down on the pedal to start off
  21. When using pedestrian crossings, dismount and be a pedestrian and make sure traffic has stopped before you cross. Don't assume that, discuss with your child if you have a green man telling you it's ok to cross that it is safe
  22. Praise when appropriate. i.e. When sound decisions have been made on the road/intersections